Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Pulp Alley, Junta style!

Allen (Black Marketeers) moves his SUV towards the radio station, while Tom (Political Refugees) and Keith (3rd Brigade) look on skeptically
 One of our regular Sunday gaming group, Joel, is know for crafting oddball scenarios for miniature gaming. He correctly decided that it was high time we played Pulp Alley again (Dakota Smith seems so long ago...), but gave it a twist. He set his campaign in the world of the boardgame Junta. Each of us would play a faction from an anonymous South American republic in the game. Mike S controlled the minions of the Minister of Internal Security, Keith some flunkeys from the 3rd Brigade, Allen had a group of Black Marketeers, Tom had nefarious Political Refugees, and I controlled the University Faculty.
The University Faculty faction sprints for the radio station, with their way blocked by a less-than-effective Psychotic Assassin
Here was Joel's setup email to us:
Subject: Pulp Alley - Junta
Location: Third World Banana Republic
Teams:  Rebel or Loyal (hidden agenda) 

Situation:  El Presidenta is opposed by a weak divided Chamber of Deputies, and a court system missing too many judges to be effective.  El Presidenta has increasingly gone beyond the boundaries of the Constitution, which brings howls from opposition (but nothing else).  El Presidenta has a not-too-secret offshore island detention center which houses people without charges or hearings.  Election time approaches, and it looks like friendly associates will be elected. Enter the Rebels.  Major Punto de Trama (major plot point) has occupied the radio station W.Z.A.P. and is broadcasting  a cycle of propaganda, a call to arms, and Slim Whitman music.  Players are to search the area, secure the radio station, and round up suspected rebels.

Leagues & their Perks-

Black Marketers: Network of Supporters
University Faculty: Bastion of Science
Political Refugees: Nefarious
Ministry of Security: Stealthy Agents
3rd Brigade: Mastermind
The Black Marketeers leap from the SUV and prepare to enter the radio station
Setup: The radio station sits in a jungle clearing north of town.  The major plot point is a rebel Major de Trama, in control of the station.  Minor plot points are gold coins ('pay roll'), weapon cache, psychotic assassin (list of names in pocket), and the bomb at the base of the radio tower.  Players are to clear the station in six turns, or less, or the Navy gunboat S.S. Pueblo will begin to opening fire. 

Play will open with a roll d10 for scenario set up -
Choose groups- secretly assign rebel/loyal (50% mix).

The Grad student investigates a suspicious box underneath a dead horse, Prof. Emilia prepares to chase down the Psychotic Assassin, while Duarte cleverly keeps close to cover in case any stray bullets come his way
 We were playing the "large group" league variant with a Leader, Sidekick, and Ally. My Leader was Professor Duarte, along with his surprisingly combative colleague, Professoressa Emilia. They were assisted by a grad student who opposed guns ("Animal" ability -- no Shooting). We quickly sprinted towards the radio station when we saw the Black Marketeers careering wildly that way in their SUV. A former student of Duarte's had been hiding in the back seat and quickly changed sides to ours when he saw his beloved teachers (a Fortune card gave me control of a Level 1 Backup, which had to be placed in contact with another player's character). Although the student never accomplished much, he certainly made the other factions wonder whether to attack him and risk my faction's ire, or leave him alone.
The Black Marketeers seize the SUV, and then ponder what to do next
The lady professor immediately charged the Psychotic Assassin and landed two solid blows that would have knocked out a lesser man. He did try to flee, but Emilia caught him and finally knocked him out. The grad student investigated a box poorly hidden underneath a dead horse and found the payroll for some government organization. Duarte assured him it was doubtless meant for the university, and he should bring it along. Meanwhile Duarte edged cautiously towards the radio station, leery of the gunfire going on inside.
Mayhem erupts inside the radio station, bullets fly, and pieces of equipment crash over onto characters
Peering through a window, he saw a battle between the Black Marketeers and the Refugees over the Rebel de Trama. The Refugees had him by his collar, and several others entered the radio station only to be sent flying by gunfire or falling debris dislodged by the scuffle. When he judged the two (three? four?) factions inside had worn themselves down sufficiently, the professor entered. He was clipped by a bullet shortly afterwards from the gunfire blazing inside. Duarte pulled out his trusty revolver and squeezed off a few shots at the hoodlum holding onto Major de Trama.

Suddenly, the opening Duarte was watching for happened. The hoodlum went down, and the rebel rolling free, but bumping his head into a desk and stunning himself. The Professor of Science activated his experimental Bullet DeMagnetizing Aura and raced forward and snatched up the rebel. All guns were trained upon the goodly professor. Under the onslaught, the aura flickered, then failed, and Duarte felt several bullets strike him. Nothing was fatal, though, and he edged towards the door with the rebel in tow.
Duarte seizes his chance! Springing forward, he grabs the hapless rebel and then turns to face the combined fury of three of the other factions
Far in the distance, several loud thumps could be heard, along with a steadily increasing shriek of incoming artillery. The damned Americans were firing to silence the radio station! All factions broke for the exits when the detonations began to strike the ground and shake the building. Bleeding but triumphant, Duarte was helped to safety by his colleague and student. Together, they escaped, and fled back to the university to examine their findings...

I had actually thought this was merely a one-off game, but Joel assures us it is part of a campaign. If that is the case, my faction is off to a solid lead with the Major Plot Point, and two Minor ones from this battle. Hopefully, more updates in the weeks ahead on Pulp Alley in the world of Junta...

For another (and more humorous account of the game, read Keith Finn's (3rd Brigade) Game Reports blog.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Flocked and Highlighted Acheson Log Stockade Fort

Corner of what I am calling my "Hasty Fort" -- a very affordable terrain pieces from Acheson Creations
 One pleasant surprise from my purchases at Advance the Colors last year was the Acheson Creations Log Stockade Fort I bought. I got it home, opened it up, and discovered it was painted. Everything I had previously bought was unpainted. This fort, which includes a gate, 11 straight sections, and four corner sections, is for 28mm figures and represents a hasty fortification built by Colonial forces.
A photo of the Acheson Creations 28mm Log Stockade Fort unpainted from their website
 The pieces were painted a deep brown with tan on the tips of the logs. There was a dark brown wash done over it all, both on the logs and the ground. Although it looked perfectly acceptable, I decided to touch it up a bit before I used it on the tabletop. I dry brushed the dark brown sections a medium brown, and then the tan sections a light khaki. This gives it more depth and a less flat look. Next, I painted the ground sections with white glue and dipped them in Woodland Scenics Turf Brown. Previously, the browns of the earth and the logs matched, but now they were obviously different. Since this is a hasty fortification, I decided not to add any grass or greenery to the turf.
The perimeter of the fort -- all of the pieces (except the 28mm minis, of course) are included in the set
You can see pictures of the fort above. Not sure when I will use it, but I'm thinking I'll set up an ambush of a woodcutting party scenario. I can have stockade on one table edge, and make it the objective of the colonial forces to escape the Indians, who will be between them and the gates.
Close up of one section of the Hasty Fort -- you can see each includes a firing port sized for 28mm figures
Unfortunately, I don't remember how much Acheson sold the painted version for, but I know it retails on their site unpainted for $25. It must have been a good deal, as I had no idea it would come painted!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Settlers for the Ohio Territory

28mm Blue Moon frontiersmen from their Ohio Valley pack
I had hoped to get this last batch of Blue Moon frontiersmen completed before I left for Historicon, but it did not happen. I ended up not needing them for my game, but when I came back, they were first on my list to finish off. I enjoyed painting the Blue Moon boxed set. The figures were interesting, even if they were not sculpted to the standard of the Conquest Miniatures I normally paint. There were some mold lines that I could not cover up with a hobby knife, and a decent amount of flash to clean off. Still, once painted, they look nice on the tabletop.
Five women and children settlers -- not sure of the manufacturer, as I bought them painted and touched them up
I also finally got around to touching up some settler women and children that I've had for years. I am not sure who makes the figures because I bought them painted off of a friend years ago. They were not badly painted, but I wanted to base them up to match the rest of my figures. As long as I was doing that, I figured that I may as well touch them up. All I really did was a bit of highlighting and drybrushing to give them more depth. That, and I added eyes. The figures were previous painted with just a black slash for eyes, so I gave them my usual 28mm treatment. The figures are actually meant to be captives -- you can see the leather wrapped around their wrists. I briefly toyed with the idea of looping several together on a multiple base. It would look nice with wire or something to show them roped together. I ended up decided not to do so because in my games, players can rescue individual captives. I let players cut one captive free, and a multiple base would complicate that (or force me to change my rules!).

I think that after painting these figures, I'm going to take a break from the French & Indian War. I will still work on terrain for it, but I think I have plenty of miniatures painted up at this point. What's next? Stay tuned, and you'll see...!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Tomahawks to Historicon 2016

Raid on the Ohio Frontier and my rules, Song of Drums and Tomahawks, had a great visit to Historicon 2016
 We took my "Raid on the Ohio Frontier" game to Historicon 2016 last weekend. It was set up for 6 players, 3 scenarios running side-by-side. We could easily have filled more slots, though. It was great to see the interest, even if I didn't like turning people away. My coauthor Mike Stelzer ran two of the four games, while I ran the others.
A family runs the gauntlet of raiding Indians to reach the local blockhouse
The Historicon Event Coordinator was very accommodating and helped us schedule the events so we could leave the table set up and not tear down after every game. We ended up running it Friday afternoon and evening, and Saturday morning and afternoon. All of the players seemed to have fun, even if their dice weren't always cooperating!
Players had a great time taking on the role of frontiersmen or raiding Indians
Sales were good. We sold 14 copies of Song of Drums and Tomahawks to convention attendees, and Mike arranged a sale of 8 copies to Brigade Games on one of his visits to the Vendor Hall. So, there's another place to pick up copies of Song of Drums and Tomahawks, now -- Brigade Games! We also sold a copy of First Command Wargames' For Queen and Planet, and a copy of Ganesha Games' Song of Drums and Shakos.
The burning log cabin made with LED votive candles was a hit with attendees
I received a lot of positive comments about the board, though I think this setup doesn't have the eye candy that some of the other ones do (no cliffs, no Indian longhouses, no fort). I think the burning log cabin with the LED votive candles made some people smile. It was nice to talk to folks who were regular readers of this blog. They said they recognized my terrain, and enjoyed seeing it in person. I think what amazed most gamers were the $2.99 log cabins and how good they look on the table with just a little bit of tricking out.
Frontiersmen and Indians exchange shots in the square of a small hamlet in the disputed Ohio territory
Here are some photos of our events -- hope you enjoy them! I had a good time running the games, and an enjoyable weekend overall.
Three different scenarios challenged the players with different objectives and tactics

The local tribes were angry with the constant encroachment on their hunting grounds by settlers
Protecting civilian women and children was a big consideration for the players controlling the frontiersmen
"There's one now! BLAM!!!" 
Indians encircle a burning cabin in "Raid on the Ohio Frontier"
Indian raiders rush across open ground to attack the defenders of a farmstead