Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Ruined 3-D Printed Buildings for Post-Apocalyptic

Bucknuts investigate one of my new 3-D printed buildings I bought from Jarls Workshop at ATC 2022

One of our HMGS Great Lakes members 3-D prints some amazing buildings, and I talked him into coming to last fall's Advance the Colors 2022 as vendor. Rusty Parker calls his shop "Jarls Workshop," and I bought quite a few items from him at the show. Most of them were ruined buildings that I could use for my post-apocalyptic games. I grabbed four of them earlier this week, and prepped them for painting.

    Rusty's excellent 3-D prints paint up quickly with base coat and dry brush for concrete and brick
Rusty's prints are of very high quality. He understands the different types of material, which gives the best results (which he uses), and invariably produces clean, flash-free buildings. I prepped them by spraying them with Krylon Matte Black primer, then following that up with a 50/50 mix of acrylic black paint and water. Once it's dry, it is a simple matter to dry brush the buildings. I start with a dark gray and follow up with a lighter gray highlight. Most of these buildings had sections of brick on them, too. Once I was done with the gray, I painted the brick sections with Iron Wind Metals Red brown. I followed that up with a dry brush of Howard Hues Middle Eastern flesh. The final touch was a relatively heavy black wash.

    Adding Woodland Scenics flocking to the dirt floor of this print makes it really pop, I feel
Next, it was on to the flocking. For the 2-story and 1-story buildings, I painted the areas that were sculpted to represent a dirt floor with white glue. I also dabbed white glue in the corners of the buildings and other spots where the wind might blow dust and dirt. In these areas, I also added some light gray Woodland Scenics clump foliage. I really felt the flocking made the 2-story and 1-story buildings "pop," so to speak. I even considered adding some posters on the walls or similar items, but decided to leave them relatively generic. I can also use these buildings for the bombed out interior of a city in Modern Skirmish games using my Wars of Insurgency rules.

    This 6-story corner shell of a skyscraper is probably my favorite of the buildings I bought from Rusty
Probably my favorite of the four buildings is the 6-story corner shell of a skyscraper. The moment I saw that sitting on Rusty's vendor table at ATC I knew I had to snatch it up before someone else did! I think it will be an iconic looking piece of a post-apocalyptic tabletop. Although this one did not have brick sections, it did have a stone tile facing on the first level. I decided to give it a dry brush of a dull, washed out green over top of the gray. The hint of color gives it a nice look, I think. What's more, I decided to add rubble on this piece. I used Woodland Scenics coarse mixed gray ballast, as well as loose resin bricks I'd bought from a game store, and some craft sticks for beams that have fallen loose onto the floor. All of these also received a dry brush or black wash. 

    Close up of the rubble, bricks, and beams that I added to the building to give more character
 I really like how the extra little bits added to the character of this very cool 3-D print. I wanted to give it a more three dimensional quality but also not impede miniatures from being put inside the building itself to take cover. I bought a total of six ruined buildings, so the next two will be following these four onto my painting desk shortly. One is a duplicate of the 2-story brick and concrete ruin that is at the top of this page. I may add a washed out color for the exterior and interior walls to make it look different. The second building is a sprawling, 2-story affair that will have a relatively large footprint on the tabletop. That's good because the next scenario I plan to run for my post-apocalyptic games will be inside a city. So, the more buildings I have, the better!

    I really look forward to seeing this 6-story ruin on the tabletop for my next post-apocalyptic game!
So, stay tuned for more update (hopefully) soon!

    Another view of the 2-story brick and concrete ruin from Jarls Workshop

Monday, February 20, 2023

Fun Weekend at the Ft. Wayne (IN) Saga Tournament

    I took my Picts to the Ft. Wayne Saga tournament and did well -- going 2-1 and having a great time
Once I decided to make the journey to the Saga tournament in Ft. Wayne, IN, the next question was which of my armies to take along and play? My most recently-painted army was the Mongols. The entire army is mounted, though, and I wasn't sure how well they would fare in a tournament featuring three scenarios with very particular victory conditions. I was especially worried about the Round 1 scenario, King of the Hill. The players get bonus points for occupying a central hill at the end of each their turns. The Mongols are all about striking and pulling back -- at least the way I play them. That would certainly entail me having to stay in place for a counter-strike by my opponent. This could prove deadly if the army was adept at shooting.

    Some of the crowd of 18 players at Power 9 Gaming in Ft. Wayne, IN, Feb. 11
So, I ended up shelving the Mongols for this tournament and playing my Picts. I actually won a tournament with them last year, and really enjoy their speed and striking ability. Their weakness, though, is they require dense terrain on the board to fully utilize their special abilities. Since terrain would be placed by the player, I felt I would be able to get at least enough terrain to give me a chance every game. I also decided to take a mercenary unit called "The Guides," which allow you to either put out additional terrain or shift the position of what's already been placed. 

    My Picts deploy for their Round 1 Battle, King of the Hill, against Scott's Moorish army
Daniel B, who was running the tournament, permitted players to have a list of eight army points from which they could draw six points at deployment. As it turned out, I used the same six points in all three rounds, never feeling the need to change it: 12 levy crossbowmen, 12 levy archers, the Guides, and three units of Pictish warrior spearmen. I kept my warlord on foot all three games, too. My opponents were all fun to play against, and I felt they presented a wide variety of challenges. My first opponent was Scott M from Indiana. He was playing Moors from Age of Crusades. I have played the Moors quite a few times myself, and it is one of my favorite armies in Saga. In fact, Scott had listened to my interview on Saga Thorsday and was basing his army list and tactics on what I recommended in Rodge's video. I told Scott I would try to help coach him through it, as this was one of the first times he had played with that army.

    Two of the other entrants from Saga Ohio, Dan N playing his Polish on left, and Bob B & Byzantines
I missed an opportunity right away to coach him during terrain placement, though. I should have told him to limit his use of "uneven" terrain, which disadvantaged his javelin-armed, Moorish cavalry and benefited my army. He went first and placed an area of ruins next to the central hill we would have to control in our King of the Hill scenario. That was a sound, tactical choice, as it gave him a good defensive position for his Moorish archers. I countered it with rocky ground on the other side of the hill where my own missile armed troops could access it quickly. Scott should have stopped placing dense terrain at that point, but placed one more piece. I kept at it, too, and the hill ended up being almost completely ringed by terrain favorable to my all-infantry, Pictish army.

    My Picts felt comfortable with the dense terrain we were able to fight in during round one
I was a little overconfident in my striking power, though. I immediately sent in one of my spear units to try to drive his Moorish archers out of the ruins. To my surprise, they were driven back and lost 25% in casualties. Yikes - bad way to start! His rolls were fairly good and mine were fairly bad in that attack, but I should have taken that possibility into account and "stacked the deck" with more advanced Saga abilities in our melee. Still, I had two other spear units and I marched one of them onto the hill next turn to begin scoring my 3 bonus points per turn (as did Scott). I was able to get some shots on his cavalry with my crossbowmen, though, which was a bonus. They advanced, getting ready to line up a charge on my infantry on the hill.

    The name of this game was "King of the Hill," so there were a lot of units advancing onto it
One interesting ability on the Pictish board is called, Secret Paths. If it is queued up in the opponent's turn, it allows a unit that has suffered a shooting attack or a charge to "teleport" near a piece of terrain somewhere on the board. Twice Scott had cavalry charges lined up against one of my units. Both times he decided to "soften them up" with archery first. Both times the Picts disappeared after weathering the Moorish missiles, leaving his cavalry with no one to charge. It was my shooting against his mounted troops that actually won the game for me, I believe. I was able to hit them a couple times and whittle away at their numbers. And when he finally did get a "Torrent of Iron" (my favorite Moorish ability) charge against my archers, the levy performed better than I thought they would and killed two or three of the enemy.

    Having driven off the Moorish thrust on the left, Pictish crossbows begin targeting enemy on the hill
All in all, I felt that I was getting a slight edge while we were trading blows. Devastating his higher point value hearthguard cavalry ended up being enough to win my first round. I had a lot of fun playing Scott. Knowing what the Moors were good at doing was a definite advantage for me, as well. The terrain favored my Picts, too. As it was, we started off with a victory in our first round and the Picts were off and running.

    Scott's depleted Moorish cavalry finally get a 'Torrent of Iron' charge off vs. my levy archers

The second round was against D.J. Andrews, one of our co-winners from the Advance the Colors 2022 Saga tournament. He was playing an army that I had yet to face -- Spanish from Age of Crusades. I had heard that one of the rules revisions had really weakened this list, so I was surprised there were actually two players using this army in the tournament. By the way, we had 18 players in total, which is an amazing number for a first-ever Saga tournament in Ft. Wayne! D.J.'s army was heavily mounted, with three units of mounted warriors and one of mounted hearthguard. Naturally, he began placing terrain with a large, gentle hill in the center. In fact, all three of my games began the same way, with my opponents being first player and having a large, gentle hill in the center of the battlefield.

    A wide open center of the board would hamper my Picts in my 2nd Round vs. D.J.'s Feudal Spanish
Our scenario for this round was A Tale of Challenges, where each player must fulfill 2-4 "boasts" over the course of the game. I was planning on using "I Will Sack Your Lands", which requires me to have three units close to his base line at the end of the game. I planned to lean on the Secret Paths ability to help get them there, so cluttered up his side of the field with woods and scrub land. I made a mistake by not having a piece of uneven terrain opposite his large hill on my side of the board, though. Since the only defense the Picts have against shooting is hiding in terrain, I handicapped myself by leaving a huge area in the center of the battlefield with nowhere for my army to hide. This forced me to split my army into two sections, one on each wing, where they could not easily support one another.

Pictish spearmen hurtled across this board, but were unable to move en masse to the enemy baseline

Still, I planned on using Secret Paths to leapfrog across the table. This plan was scuttled by poor rolling of my command and control dice. Each six-sided Saga die has one Rare face (think of it as the "six"), two Uncommon faces, and three Common faces. I need an Uncommon for Secret Paths. Guess what I didn't roll for three turns straight? Uncommons! That seriously handicapped my chances of crossing the table and scoring bonus points for our challenge. 

    Pictish archers, followed by the Guides, loose volleys at the surprised Spanish cavalry
My other challenge required that I pick his most expensive unit in points (I chose his 12-man mounted hearthguard unit) and destroy it entirely. The biggest barrier to doing that would be the Jinetes ability on the Spanish battle board. This allows a unit of his mounted troops to move after one of mine have moved or shot. The Picts are very speedy, but their long range charge they would need to complete two separate activations. However, whenever I darted forward to where I could charge his cavalry, they would scamper away before I could play my second action (the charge). In the end, I would fail at achieving either of my challenges, which would cost me 10 points.

    Pictish spearmen come up short, as the faster Spanish cavalry at top keep evading away

As for casualties, I was actually ahead of him in destroying enemy throughout the game. I caught him off guard early (when he did not have Jinetes queued up), and moved quicker than he expected with my archers. They loosed a couple good shots at his smaller units of mounted warriors. I felt I did a good job of keeping his Flemish mercenaries out of the game, too. They were meant to be his unit that took my punches, but we did not oblige that and never charged them. When the Flemish charged one of my warrior units, I had my board stacked with good defensive melee abilities. My Pictish spearmen actually drove them off and caused some Flemish casualties.

    Late in the game, the Picts are too far from the enemy board edge to score boast to sack their camp!
Still, I was staring down a negative 10 point deficit in failed challenges. D.J. skillfully kept me from closing with my target unit. The game felt close all the way through. He had been able to pull off the "First Blood" challenge on turn one. Even though he failed to kill my warlord (his other challenge), the fact that he scored one of his and had only a single negative one made a big difference. In the end, D.J. and his Feudal Spanish prevailed in our tense game of cat and mouse.  I had a lot of fun playing against him, and would relish a straight up matchup with him another time!

    Another Round 1 game, Phil's Welsh tackle Jenny's Eastern Princes and their battle wagon

The tourney GM, Daniel, had done a great job matching up folks who normally don't play each other in the first two rounds. That's something I strive to do, as well. The Ohio contingent had brought six players - fully one third of the tourney's numbers. Indianapolis had also brought a good number to Ft. Wayne, as well. Patrick W even drove up from North Carolina! However, in the last round I got matched up against one of the Saga Ohio players -- tourney veteran Jim Randall. He was also 1-1 with his Last Romans. We had recently played in Shore Wars 2022 in Cleveland, which I had run (and played in to make an even number). Jim is an excellent, crafty opponent. You have to bring your "A Game" against him, or you will end up defeated. Even with your A Game on, it is still a likely chance he will emerge triumphant.

    My Round 3 opponent at right, Jim, as he unravels the mystery of how to attack Eric's Spartans

This version of his Last Romans was different than what I'd faced at Shore Wars. He had Flemish mercenaries (to hold the hill in Round 1) instead of Jarl Sigvaldi. Other than that, his army was infantry heavy, with only one six-man unit of mounted hearthguard with composite bows. It was obvious that Jim planned to win a shooting duel, and eke out a victory based on that. This would not be a clash of battle lines, if his strategy played out, but instead a skirmishing duel. On one turn, it became unmistakably apparent that was his strategy. He loaded up nearly all of his Saga dice in Combat Bonus to augment a shot at my Pictish crossbowmen. He ended up rolling 14 dice on that attack, I believe, and was stunned when it caused only one casualty. I reminded him that I was in heavy cover (giving me better armor and a +1 save). He countered with, "You're living a charmed life." I then reminded him my previous roll of Saga dice was 7 Commons on no Rares or Uncommons. And his own infantry in Woods had survived unscathed a 9-dice shot from my crossbowmen!

    Jim ponders and assesses the battlefield for a few moments before beginning to move on our turn one
The scenario was Desecration, and I think Jim was planning on neither of us destroying one of the three enemy objectives. However, my goal was to take out at least one, hopefully two -- if I got lucky with a Secret Path redeployment. I advanced quickly with one of my spear units and sent it charging in. The Picts succeeded in taking out his closest objective. This began a tit-for-tat string of counter-punches where each of us attacked an exposed enemy unit, leaving one of our own open for the other to counterattack. This string of charges and shooting ended when he unwisely galloped forward with his mounted warlord into one of my units. On my turn, another Pictish spear unit charged the fatigued warlord and cut him down.

Pict left wing, which joined the right wing, one by one, when no threat came their way
At this point, I felt I had the game well under control. He had yet to take an objective (capping him at 10 Massacre Points), while I had taken one of his and killed his warlord. Jim tried some last turn shenanigans, aided by some incredibly fortunate Saga die rolling. He began his final turn with 3 command dice, and somehow rolled enough Rares to play Activation Pool all the way up to his full 8 command dice! His mounted horse archers finally got into the battle, but it was too little, too late. The Picts had triumphed and we got our revenge for his gouging of my Carolingians at Shore Wars!

    Pictish spearmen charge into and slay the Roman warlord when he ventures too far forward
I ended the day 2-1, but in the middle of the pack because of my low scoring in round 2. Nevertheless, I had a great time and played three fun games of Saga. Oh, and my fear of entering my Mongols in the tournament? Fellow Saga Ohio player Joe Dihrkop brought Mongols and won it all! In addition to the gaming, we had an equally great time out the evening before. The Ft. Wayne Saga folks had organized a Friday night outing at a local wings place and 14 of us showed up. It was fun to meet a lot of the players beforehand, and get a chance to get to know them. All in all, it was a great weekend of gaming and camaraderie. Thanks to Daniel, Mark, Eric, Troy, and all of the other Ft. Wayne folks for being such great hosts! If you get a chance to make it to one of their events, I highly recommend it!!

    Finished at 1:30am the night before, Eric's Spartans were one of the cooler looking armies there!

    At left, Patrick W (who drove up from NC) advances on Anthony A from Indiana

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Finally! Second Post-Apoc game: 'I Smell a Rat...!'

    F Troop, a survivor gang drawn from a former Army unit, search for loot on the outskirts of town
It had been since July of 2022 that I ran our first post-apocalyptic game, Water or Gas? Waaay too long! And just when I was ready to host the long-awaited sequel, the flu bug made a run through our gaming group and I had to postpone twice more. Five of us finally got together, though, this past Sunday to play out, "I Smell a Rat!" -- the second scenario in what will hopefully be a continuing series of games. It also happened to be Super Bowl Sunday, so we had the TV on in the background to keep an eye on the commercials and regular scoring between the Chiefs and Eagles.

    F Troop advances, ready to forage the ruins for supplies (figs from Battle Valor Games)
In my second scenario, various gangs of survivors have heard that another gang was recently wiped out by the Machines and their Bots on a foraging expedition. A number of rival gangs were also aware that the deceased gang members had a headquarters in a trailer on the edge of a town. Most were of the opinion that there had to be some guns, ammo, or other useful supplies stashed in the trailer or nearby. The goal was to be the first to loot the headquarters! Unknown to the would-be looters, swarms of rats have been drawn to the area by the smell of the gang's rotting food. Amidst the swarms could be seen the huge shapes of ROUS's (Rodents of Unusual Size, for fans of The Princess Bride).

    The Green Dragons, my newest team, advance onto the board wearing their HazMat suits & masks
There were three weapons caches on the board (3 Renown Points each) -- in the trailer, hidden inside a rusted van, and also inside a broken down taxi. These were spread across the center of the board, and would require a "Normal" task roll to successfully loot it. At eight other scattered points on the tabletop were crates marking the location of medical equipment or food supplies (2 Renown Points each). However, the first time a player character came within 6" of one of those spots, they had to stop their move and roll a d10. On a 1-2, a ROUS appeared, 3-5 swarm of rats, 6+ no effect. If one appeared, a card was immediately dealt to the player two spots to their left at the table. The controller of the swarm or ROUS added the extra card to their hand, and could use that card or one of their other cards to activate the creatures.

    The rowdy Barbarozas investigate a pile of rubbish, hoping to find something useful
Players could also get a RP by knocking out of action a rival player's character, killing a ROUS or swarm, or even while controlling a rat and knocking out another player's character. This last one was to ensure proper bloodthirstiness among the rival players rather than any gentleman's agreement! Finally, players could earn an RP for spending two actions carving off some meat from a downed swarm or ROUS -- White Castle rat-burgers on the menu tonight! Ha, ha!!


    Winners of the first scenario, the Blood Brotherhood move up past a ruined building
The board was roughly 6' wide and 4's across. I am thinking of shrinking it down a bit for the next game. There was less interaction among rival teams in this game than I was hoping for. Jenny's Blood Brotherhood and Andy's Barbarozas had a running fight through the second half of the game, but otherwise, little other gun play happened between players. I even sweetened the pot for players who had a character knocked out of action last game. They would receive a bonus 1 RP each if they got revenge and knocked out members of that gang. With the lack of targeting each other that occurred, I am thinking my board is too spacious.

    The Followers of the Dark Prophet were the first to trigger the arrival of a swarm of giant rats
The game opened with each player starting near one of the four corners or mid-point of one of the long edges. I had tried to distribute the equipment caches evenly across the board, and all five players immediately began heading for them. Allen's Followers of the Dark Prophet were the first to come within 6" of a crate. A rat swarm appeared, though, and the startled Daffyd of the Followers tried to leap back. His fellows opened fire on the swarm, but that seemed to only enrage the vermin. Almost immediately afterwards, Jenny used the extra card (or one of her own?) to charge the rats into Daffyd. He went down, screaming horribly, devoured by a moving carpet of rats.

    The Barbarozas welcomed the rats arrival and waded in with axes and swords to carve up a meal!
His horrified brethren continued to pour fire into the swarm, but succeeded in putting only one wound and one Shock marker on the rats. Since swarms remove a wound at the end of each turn, the second turn dawned with an almost fresh rat swarm ready to charge again.  However, the concentrated gunfire of the black-clad Followers finally dispersed or killed most of the rats before it could charge again. This seemed to check Allen's enthusiasm for moving ahead quickly, though, and he explored more cautiously for the next couple turns.

    Dragons leader Ting and Wang survey the dilapidated trailer before moving in to search it
Meanwhile, the wild Barbarozas charged onto the board with a rocker's rebel yell. This elicited movement at the first crate, and sure enough, another rat swarm emerged from a pile of garbage. It charged into Barbarozas, who despite toting guns, are always ready for a hand-to-hand brawl. Their team trait is "Ferocious," which adds +1 on their "to wound" roll in melee. I had modeled the team on the classic "bad guys" of Mad Max and other post-apocalyptic movies. Andy's rock and rollers quickly dispatched the rat swarm and then showed their barbaric nature by immediately carving up the carcasses to take home for dinner!

    Ting watches in horror as Wang is attacked by a swarm of rats as he crept towards the trailer
Meanwhile, across the table, the dark red-clad Blood Brotherhood crept onto the scene. Winners of the first scenario in RPs, they showed they were still a force to be reckoned with. When their exploration prompted a loud roll and the appearance of an ROUS, the Brotherhood did not panic. Brother Foresight, who seemed to anticipate the appearance of the monstrous rat, took aim with his shotgun and dropped it with one shot. 

    Before Wang could respond, the rats attack again on the next turn, swarming all over him
I was playing my newest painted gang, the Green Dragons. I sent Feng to the left to investigate one of the crates between my position and that of the Followers of the Dark Prophet. I sent Chen to the right to check out another crate. While Feng fumbled finding anything, and eventually gave up, Chen found a packet of medical supplies and quickly pocketed them. The Dragons' leader Ting, accompanied by his loyal henchman Wang, crept towards the trailer. The two eyed the steel bars reinforcing all the windows and wondered if it was truly abandoned. Ting waved Wang forward. As the green-clad survivor neared the trailer, a seething gray mass emerged from underneath the trailer. Another swarm of giant rats had appeared! 

    The rats had less success against the Blood Brother, as Justice dispatches a ROUS with his shotgun
The rats quickly charged (Joel was merciless when controlling the rats) and inflicted a Shock on Wang. When Ting's turned arrived, I was unsure what to do. If I shot into the melee, Fistful of Lead rules state that you randomize who you hit. However, if you charge into melee, all combatants roll again. So, if the rat swarm rolled high and I rolled low, I could lose both characters. What to do, wondered my leader Ting? I decided to have the leader take up a good firing position and use his "Encouraging" trait to remove Wang's shock. Wrong decision, apparently, as on the next turn, Joel acted with the first of his SIX cards (he also received an extra card because his gang, F Troop, had Advanced Communications as their team trait). The swarm acted before Wang could, and took him out in a flurry of sharp teeth and raking claws. Joel then used the swarm's "Unstoppable" trait to immediately charge Ting!

    The Barbarozas move onto the rusting taxi, gleeful to attack another rat swarm when it appeared
Ting was apparently made of sterner stuff than Wang, though. As the rats came clambering over the walls he was sheltering behind, he splattered one after another with quick pistol shots in melee. Soon, the rat swarm all lay dead or dispersed squeaking for somewhere to hide. In the game so far, two player characters had been taken down by the rats. Had I made them too tough? Apparently not, as they would prove an afterthought in the rest of the game, and no more losses would come at their hands. All in all, I really liked how this mechanic I'd created worked. Giving a rival player control of the "monsters," and giving them an extra card to use for them, gave them more tactical decision making. They could use that card for themselves and one of their originally drawn cards for the rats. Or vice versa. I will definitely keep it for future scenarios!

    Ever on the hunt for humans, a Scout Bot rolls onto the table, attracted by the gunfire of our teams
Since we had lost 10% of our forces, that would also trigger the arrival of the machines at the end of the turn. At 10%, a Scout Bot rolls onto the field. The player who has lost the most figures (or the first to lose them if tied), gains control of it, just like with the rats. Allen was given a Scout Bot, which he placed in Jenny's deployment corner. Meanwhile, things were heating up between Jenny's Blood Brotherhood and Andy's Barbarozas. I knew that once the hooded brethren headed for the broken-down taxi that Andy would take that as an affront. His rockers had been heading there since turn one. He immediately opened fire while sprinting for the hard cover of the taxi. Another swarm of rats scampering over the rusting body of the vehicle didn't faze the Barbarozas in the least.

    Almost as if expecting it, Brother Foresight wheels and blasts with his shotgun, disabling the bot
On his turn, two of Andy's characters charged into the swarm and eventually dispatched it. Raven, the second in command of the gang, then opened fire on Brother Temperance, who fell to the ground with a cry, his dark red robe slowly becoming darker. The cool-headed nature of the hooded brethren was apparent, though. Deacon Justice, the second in command whirled around and blasted away at the Scout Bot, which came rolling up behind the Brotherhood. One of his shots hit something vital and the mechanical scout crashed to the ground, its one wheel spinning crazily. Equally nonplussed, Grand Master moved up to the taxi and blasted away at the three enemy gang members. When Fredrik, with his flowing locks of hair, charged into the Grand Master, the hooded commander slammed his submachine gun into the gut of the fearsome barbarian. Shocked, he recoiled and fell back.

    After killing the rats, the Barbarozas use the taxi as cover and fire away at the Blood Brotherhood
Still, Grand Master knew he was outnumbered and backed away. This left the Barbarozas time to find the weapons cache hidden in the taxi's trunk. When Fredrik saw the bots begin to arrive, he shouted to his gang to begin to fall back. He even yelled out "Truce - machines!" to the Brotherhood, and the gun play between the two gangs died out. The Brotherhood was less ready to call it a day, though. Seeing the Green Dragons members entering the trailer, he growled and was tempted to go after them. However, seeing Brother Temperance lying motionless, and worrying more rats might be about, he sprinted over to him. He slung him over his shoulder and backed slowly and grudgingly off the table.

    Meanwhile, Joel's F Troop was scavenging the ruins picking up useful equipment unhindered

As mentioned, my Green Dragons were headed towards the trailer. Chen sprinted along the edge of a patch of scrub, checking out if the coast was clear to make a dash for the trailer's door. Ting followed him up, taking up each position Chen vacated. Seeing no other gang members near the trailer, Chen sprinted and took cover by the staircase leading up to the door. Ting took his place by the scrub, covering him with his pistol. On his next turn, Chen vaulted onto the stairs, and dashed inside the doorway. He immediately located the weapons cache, and gathered it into a sack for ease of carrying.

    After killing the rat swarm that took out Wang, Ting follows Chen towards the trailer
Meanwhile, the hapless Feng, after failing to find the supplies, moved to a patch of woods. He could see the shadowy shapes of F Troop through the trees. Unwisely, he stopped moving and sheltered on the edge of the trees. Making up for his lackluster first game, Joel was on fire that evening. He sent one of his F Troop soldiers through the woods and opened fire on Feng, dropping him with a well-placed shot. Confident that Feng was down, the trooper backed away through the woods. Joel was successful in looting the crates he found and also secured the weapons the gang had hidden inside the rusted van. Eventually, he decided it had been a good foraging expedition, and withdrew -- never having suffered a shot or the claws of any rats.

Followers of the Dark Prophet continue exploring, unaware they are being stalked by a Scout Bot
Ting saw Feng crawling away, bleeding. He darted towards the staircase and shouted encouragement to Feng to shake off the wound and get up. Feng failed his Recovery roll again, but finally on the third try was successful. He staggered erect and began stumbling towards the Green Dragons entry point. Ting and Chen returned the way they came, first to cover by the staircase, then to the scrub, and finally darting for the table edge. Ting scooped up Wang's body along the way, hoping that he was merely unconscious and not dead. Eventually, all four exited the table with RPs from a weapons cache, medical equipment, and killing a rat swarm. 

    The Scout Bot blazed away at the dark-robed Followers, but was unable to score any hits
Jenny got her revenge on Allen by bringing on the second Scout Bot in Allen's deployment area. It fired away at Solomon Bey, the leader of the Followers of the Dark Prophet. His "Sixth Sense" trait forced Jenny to re-roll the hit she'd placed on him and Solomon was more lucky on the second roll. The Followers used the ruins as cover as best they could to minimize the chances for the Scout Bot to score any hits. Jenny's rolls were unsuccessful, and soon there were no more humans in the area for it to hunt down. All of the players had escaped. A late-arriving Sentry Bot similarly missed the opportunity to get shots at the withdrawing F Troop. 

    Ever the caring leader, Ting carries Wang off towards medical treatment at the Dragons base
All teams scored successes, with four of the five suffering an "Out of Action" result on one of its gang members during the course of the game. Everyone also brought home equipment of some sort and likely will be using the RPs earned to add a trait or two to its team members. I am learning each game how to make scenarios more interesting using these rules. I am thinking the next game will likely be inside the ruins of a city, with slightly more intact buildings and streets and alley ways to explore. I have some ideas on what random "monsters" the players will run into, as well.

So, stay tuned for the next game report. Hopefully, the wait won't be as long this time!

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Green Dragons: New Post-Apoc Force

    My final post-Apocalyptic force (again!) - the Green Dragons, 28mm minis from Battle Valor Games
Okay, so I DID say that I was done painting forces for my post-apocalyptic games, right? Well, how can one more force hurt, right? When I finished painting the Barbarozas in December, I had one force for all seven of my regular players. I got to thinking, though, when everyone does show up, maybe I should control a force, too? That would enable us to split it into two games of four instead of one game of four and another of three...or one game of seven! So, for balance's sake, maybe I should paint up one final gang for me to control. Why not?

    Originally, I thought the figures were sculpted in hoodies, but they turned out to be HazMat suits
It just so happened that I also had one style of force from Battle Valor Games (formerly cast by Sgt. Major Miniatures) that I hadn't used, yet. When I purchased them, I thought they were wearing hoodies with masks or respirators of some sort. When I pulled the figures out to clean them up, it seemed obvious that their outfit was a one-piece, Hazmat suit. That fits pretty well with a post-apocalytpic setting, I thought. What color to paint them, though? I went online and found a huge variety of colors of suits under the heading of Hazard Materials Suit. I didn't want to duplicate the color of any of my other forces I'd painted up, so the tans and oranges were out the window (some of my Planet of the Apes figs wear burnt orange jumpsuits). I settled on a kind of bright, almost putrid green. I felt this might blend in more with the battlefield than the bright yellow ones I saw online!

    I debated with myself about the color to paint their suits, but chose a light, putrid green
I also decided that this would be an Asian gang, and I would paint their masks/respirators as white N95 type masks. Not to stereotype, but typically Asian cultures are much more proactive about wearing such masks than your standard American populace -- or at least pre-Covid! I decided that I would call them the Green Dragons, to go with the color of their jumpsuit and the overall veneration of the dragon as a mythical figure by Chinese culture. I selected the brightest and most putrid green color that I had (Howard Hues Light Green), and gave them a base coat of that. I then found a darker green, watered it down, and did a wash over the figure. Finally, I took a chalky, greenish-white color and dry brushed the figure with it. I liked the depth of the green this gave it, and am happy with the Hazmat suit color.

    For their logo, I used a black micron pen to write in the word 'Dragons' in Chinese script
I used the same formula for their skin as I did for my Mongols -- I had mixed up a big batch of it when I was painting my Mongol Saga army using a standard flesh with a different, tan leathery color. It begins too bright, but I put both a brown and black wash on it and I like how it comes out. It is a more weathered, tan wash than a city-dweller in a Chinese city might wear, but for a post-apocalyptic force, I figured a dirty, darker skin is more realistic.

    The green dragons explore the burnt out urban ruins of my post-Apocalyptic world
I painted a black oval on the back of the jumpsuit and then put in a tan or yellowish-white oval inside it. Inside the oval, I would later use a black Micron pen to write in the word "Dragons" in Chinese script. First, though, I finished painting all of the figures' equipment -- which was pretty much just their white masks and their weapons. This batch of miniatures went very quickly as the poses did not have much equipment festooned on them. I did the eyes -- not very happy with how those came out. The mask really squeezed the area I had to do the eyes. Once everything was completely painted, I did the final black wash. In the end, I really like how the Green Dragons look. Once I make their character cards with stats for Wiley Games' Fistful of Lead rules, I will go back and do the character names on the bases. I think the player controlling them will especially need them for this gang! Three of the figures carry pistols, while two appear to have shotguns. I'll offer one of our regular players, Andy, the choice of playing either the Barbarozas or the Green Dragons. I'll take the remaining one for my gang. 

    A Destroyer Bot arrives -- a 3-D printed miniature from Thingiverse
Since the Green Dragons were painting up so quickly, I decided to finally getting around to painting the "Destroyer Bot" miniature that my friend Joe 3-D printed for me. I'd picked out the file from Thingiverse and he'd done a good job printing this one. Some of his prints have a lot of flash, but this one was pretty smooth. When I was painting the Scout, Sentry, and Military Bots earlier, I had primed up this figure. I even put a base coast of a darker metallic silver on it. However, I decided that I wanted this one to be more colorful. So, I went back over and repainted most of it in the Metallic Dark Red craft paint which I had first used on my drones for Space Station Alpha. I really like that color, plus it covers MUCH better than the other metallics.

    Armed with multiple weapon systems, this Bot will likely cause player forces to flee the table
On the areas that I left silver, I went back and repainted them the darker metallic dark gray that I have been using for a lot of Sci-Fi stuff. I think the combination of the dark red and dark gray metallic is pretty effective. I am happy with how it looks. I did accents in a coppery gold metallic color that I have been using a lot in my Sci-Fi terrain, as well. I am not 100% happy with how the green, yellow, and red "lights" came out on the figure. I have used this technique in the past with terrain and bots and liked the effect it gave. However, perhaps these "lights" are too big, and it loses that control panel or LED indicator look to it. 

    I like the 2-tone, red and gray metallic paint scheme - though I am not sold on the colored 'lights'
All in all, he looks acceptable to use on the tabletop. That is, whenever we finally get around to PLAYING one of my post-apocalyptic games, again! My group has been hit with the flu bug of last. We have scheduled to play the second game at my place two of the last three weekends, but sickouts have reduced us below the level to make it worth playing. We're trying again next weekend, and hopefully finally get game two in. The likelihood of the Destroyer Bot showing up is low in a game. The bots arrive, attracted by the sounds of gunfire and fighting. A Scout Bot shows up first, then a Sentry Bot, then Military Bot, and finally the Destroyer. In our first game we had one or two Scout Bots arrive, and one Sentry Bot (which gunned down a character, causing the players to have the rest of their miniatures flee the table. They are programmed to arrive when players lose a certain percentage of their forces, so it may never happen. Either way, I have one ready!

Now, we just need to play a game...!