Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Killer Rabbits of Caerbannog


   A bloodthirsty nest of rabbits with parts of victims, lurking by the cave of Caerbannog
My last post of 2023 is a somewhat whimsical one. For her latest Saga army, Jenny had purchased a pack of bunnies from Bad Squiddo Games. In Saga, units accumulate fatigue as a result of combat, excess movement, etc. I have always liked to use scenic items that blend in with the tabletop -- shields, dropped weapons, spears, etc. Jenny decided she wanted to use the pack of 8 bunnies as her fatigue markers. And if they're going to be rabbits, why not model them after the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog?

The inspiration for the fatigue markers...

Yes, Monty Python fans, I'm referring to the scene where the "harmless little bunny" cuts down a number of King Arthur's knights. I figured it would make a nice Christmas present to paint them up for her. Rather than make all eight identical, I Googled various rabbit colors and did them up for some variety. Once they were done, I asked her, "Are you SURE you want me to make these into killer bunnies?" She was. 

    They may look like harmless little bunnies, but...

Step two was finding a couple old plastic figures and chopping off hands or feet. These were placed on the bases after the flocking was done. I then painted them up with suitably gory amounts of blood. I also painted the rabbits' mouths and a few paws as bloodstained. I used Iron Wind Metals "Blood Red" for the main area with highlights of bright red to give it more depth.

    The two colors of red and dismembered hands and feet made the little vignettes suitably gory
Jenny was happy with pack of her killer bunnies, so it was a success as a Christmas present. If you end up playing a game of Saga against her Iberian army, you may get a chuckled out of her whimsical humor. If you're interested in doing something similar, Bad Squiddo Games makes quite the variety of animal packs. I have purchased their Ravens to use as fatigue markers as well. Check them out at Badger Games!

    Just one rabbit accounted for 5 (or was it 3?) of King Arthur's knights, imagine what two would do...

    Yes, that's a carrot one of the bunnies has...maybe a palate cleanser (or desert) after their meal?

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Year in Review: Three Threads for 2023

    One theme that remained constant in 2023 was work on my post-apocalyptic terrain

Three main projects dominated my painting and terrain building for this past year, 2023. One thread remained constant, though at times it faded almost completely into the background. The other two surged for awhile into the spotlight, in essence battling for my attention. The one that remained constant was my post-apocalyptic campaign. The other two that saw periods of intense focus were Ancient/DarkAge/Medieval Saga and Science-Fiction gaming.


The constant thread was my post-apocalyptic campaign. I entered the year with nearly all of my survivor gangs painted up, adding only one to the ranks in 2023. This occurred only as it became obvious that I might need to play occasionally to balance out the numbers in games. So, I reached into my Battle Valor Games purchases and created one more gang -- the Green Dragons. They first hit the table in February. They were an Asian-American gang, and saw action in the second scenario we played in the campaign, "I Smell a Rat." 


    I made some modifications to Monster Fight Club's chain fences (like the thin strand of barbed wire)
Most of my efforts on this project were in terrain building. From barbed wire compounds to burnt-out vehicles, I cranked out the tabletop scenery. Those were probably my two favorite additions to the scenery. The barbed wire compound was a store-bought purchase from Monster Fight Club scenery, using two of their "Chain Link Fences" boxes. Of course, being me, I couldn't just use them straight out of the box. I modified them fairly heavily and these are one of the best additions to my terrain collection this year, in my opinion. We have used it in two scenarios so far, "Searching an Abandoned Army Base" and the most recently, "Where the Dark Things Gather."

    I was really pleased with these die cast vehicles that had been set aflame turned out
I was also very happy with my addition of damaged and burnt out vehicles for the desolate urban areas in my post-apocalyptic world. I had done some research on how to get the effect of a burnt out vehicle and was shocked that the consensus was to actually set on fire die cast models. First, I used pliers and wire cutters to remove the wheels and much or all of the plastic. Then, on a warm April evening, I swabbed them down with rubbing alcohol and lit them on fire. Thankfully, no neighbors were outside to see what the amateur pyromaniac was doing. I was fairly happy with how they turned out. The ash-like char seemed to never be sealed in by numerous clear coats, though. So, I still have to handle them carefully. I would end up doing two more batches of damaged/burnt vehicles, but who knows? Maybe one day I'll make some more!

    My favorite Jarls Workshop building was the six-story corner ruin (with some of my own bits added)
I also constructed a number of new buildings for the an urban, post-apocalyptic battlefield. My favorites were the ones I bought from Jarls Workshop (Rusty Parker) at the previous year's Advance the Colors 2022. They turned out great, and I would end up buying more from him in October at the 2023 convention. My favorite was the six-story corner remnant that I jazzed up with wooden beams and bricks. I bought more of these this year, but have yet to assemble them and get them ready for the tabletop. They will probably be the first terrain that I create in 2024, though! Rusty's 3-D printed buildings paint up very quickly and I highly recommend them. 

    We got in four games over the course of 2023 of my post-apocalytpic campaign
Finally, we got in four post-apocalyptic games over the course of the year. That was way under what I was hoping, but it did remain constant throughout the year. I am happy with how the Wiley Games Core Rules are working out for these skirmishes. Each player selects four characters for that scenario from the 7-8 that I had created for their survivor gang. Sometimes, characters who are wounded have to miss the following scenario or die of their wounds (only one character so far...sigh, mine!). The players have gotten the hang of using Renown Points to purchase new Traits and upgrade their force. I am having fun with running the scenarios, and will probably step back from playing in them with the Green Dragons unless we have a very small turnout. Look for more games in the coming months -- especially during January and February when our usual Sunday evening host will be out of town.

Science-Fiction Gaming

As the year closes, Sci-Fi gaming is the one I am focused on, now. It was also how I began 2023. I'd picked up Space Station Zero from Snarling Badger Studios, intrigued by the possibility of co-op skirmish as crews explore a derelict space station on the edge of the galaxy. I went all in for a few months, creating a playing surface of metallic looking tiles. I also made various bits of Sci-Fi scatter terrain that would work great for either the interior of a space station or on a planet's surface. Some were store-bought from Mantic Games, Acheson Creations, while still others were scratch-built from wooden pieces at craft stores. Jazzed up with metallic paints and various metal scatter consoles from RRB Minis & More, they set the stage for a new period of gaming in a new year.

    Our one and only game of Space Station Zero (so far, to be fair) using my game mat tiles & terrain
Except it never really went very far. Jenny and I played one scenario of Space Station Zero. We had fun, but after playing, I felt that its scope and scale wouldn't fit in as well for our Sunday evening gaming sessions. Even switching from co-op to competitive play mode in the rules, I felt that we'd struggle with so many players to have a game session for what was originally designed as a solo miniatures gaming adventure. Jenny and I swore we'd play the next scenario some winter evening when we had nothing else to do, but never got around to it. I'd painted my crew -- Dave and the rest from the spaceship Jupiter in 2001: A Space Odyssey -- but it looked like the Jupiter was grounded back here on Earth.

    JS Wargamer Printing 'Machine Wars - Exterminators' very cool 3D printed Terminators

In August, Sci-Fi gaming showed another flicker of life. Keith ran a Star Wars scenario using Wiley Games Galactic Heroes rules. He had a lot of the Wizards of the Coast pre-painted Star Wars figures. I was intrigued. We knew the rules. Both Keith and Mike S had tons of figs, but school had just started up again and I was hitting my busy point in the year. Sci-Fi gaming seemed to be an empty void once again until just last month. I decided to paint up one of my purchases from CincyCon 2023, JS Wargamer Printing's 3-D printed Terminators. This, and the purchase of rules books from the "Rampant" series at Advance the Colors 2023, convinced me to give Xenos Rampant a try.

    I was really pleased at how these various robots and droids came out with their metallic paints
This is a bigger size game than either Space Station Zero or Galactic Heroes. Each player will likely control 4-6 squads of figures, making it just a bit under Saga sized force, in my planned scale. Since then, I have been busy cranking out sets of Sci-Fi miniatures. After the Terminators (for a Machines force, of course), came a couple batches of droids or robots. I continued on with some 3-D printed space marines bought from Wiley Games. I called them the Bronze Legion, and bought and painted up a second squad's worth of the figures. And, for those who follow my blog regularly, you know that has continued apace with some Blue-skinned aliens and a squad of Star Wars B1 Battle Droids.

Aliens from the Strargrave Mercenaries box and actually painted to match one of my survivor gangs.
I'm anticipating my first game of Xenos Rampant in January. If not, at least by February. It's kind of cool that I started and began 2023 with Sci-Fi. I'm a big fan of the various Star Wars streaming series, so it is almost unusual that it hadn't found its way to the tabletop for me.

    It seems I never choose a simple army to paint, and that was definitely the case for 2023's Thracians!

Saga Ancients/Dark Ages/Medieval Skirmish

The third thread of my year of gaming was playing Saga, the skirmish miniatures game from Studio Tomahawk. In fact, it took over the majority of my painting and gaming from about late summer through Advance the Colors 2023. Two main reasons for this was that I had undertaken painting a new army, the Thracians. Also, I was painting up prizes and prepping for my two tournaments I was going to run at ATC 2023. I had queried local and regional Saga groups and they gave a thumbs up to adding a Friday Age of Ancients tournament to my 3rd annual Saturday Age of Melee one. Ancients includes the six armies each from Age of Hannibal and Age of Alexander. 

    At least the Thracians had only one unit of mounted -- unlike an entire army with the Mongols!
In fact, the Thracians I was painting up were from the Alexander book, and had caught my eye for their interesting "Loot" mechanic. They were also an army almost no one was talking about, and I enjoy painting the fringe armies. Greeks and Macedonians were sure to be popular choices from that book, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Naturally, if they're an army that I am picking they MUST have complex patterns or something to make them a challenge to paint, right? Of course! Greek pottery gives us a wealth of primary source material on the geometric (and assumed) colorful cloaks that the Thracian warriors wore. I borrowed my friend Mike's Osprey book on the army and sketched out about a dozen simplified versions of the patterns to use on my own miniature Thracians. With 28mm minis, we want to give the effect of something -- not necessarily a 1:1 recreation of it. Too much often ends up being, not surprisingly, too much.

    One of my three victories with the Picts at CincyCon 2023 - this one against a Norman foe
As December comes to its end, I am not strictly done with the Thracians. I have about one batch of javelin-armed warriors to paint up. I also have yet to do the custom fatigue markers I will create for this army. I borrowed some spare heads from friends who have plastic kits (where they provide options for players to use). I will mount these heads on the markers because the Thracians were known as a head-hunting tribe. Luckily, I already had suitable markers created for the loot tokens from a past gaming project.

View of the action at ATC 2023 weekend, which saw more than 30 participants from near & far
Our monthly Saga Sundays at the Guardtower East continued, but attendance seemed to die down a bit, this year. We were down from 12-16 attendees to the 6-10 range, most months. Unfortunately, the trips to Beavercreek and the Dragons Guildhall also decreased, on my part. I probably made it only about 4-5 times this year instead of being a regular. Honestly, the reason for this was likely the increase in the number of tournaments we had in the area. The year started off with a Saga tournament run in Ft. Wayne, IN, in February. The tournies continued in March with Cincycon 2023 -- where my Picts were victorious overall. I did not make it to Adrian John's next tournament at DayCon, but did actually participate in a small one at Historicon in July. In September, I also drove north to Port Clinton, OH, for Rusty and Jim's Hold the Line convention. That was followed by the success at Advance the Colors, with 14 players in my Ancients Saga tournament and 24 on Saturday. So, lots of tournaments probably meant fewer people at our monthly game days, I imagine.

    One of the six warlord stands I painted up and gave away as Saga prizes in 2023
One thing that my friend Mike has cautioned about is getting to the "burn out" stage with these rules, like we eventually did with DBA (De Bellis Antiquitatis). This is my fifth year of playing Saga. We played DBA for a couple decades, so it is nowhere near the same longevity. However, I do see a similar vibe with a tournament at every convention beginning to happen with me and Saga. I have also noticed my enthusiasm for hosting new episodes of my Saga Ohio Podcast waned over the course of the year, too. Mostly, this is because school is always so busy -- "180 days of triage", I call the school year. Possible burn out IS something to keep an eye out for when scheduling my gaming and painting, though.

Obviously, this isn't every bit of gaming that I did in 2023. It is a good sampling to reflect upon, though, and I hope readers enjoyed it. As we head towards 2024, my production seems to be picking up speed. What will 2024 bring? Hopefully, more faithful readers of my Lead Legionaries blog like yourselves! Happy New Year!! 😃

Friday, December 22, 2023

Battle Droids & 2nd Batch of Bronze Legion

    My 2nd squad of the Bronze Legion faces off against Star Wars Legion B1 Battle Droids
Now that it is winter break from school, my hobby production is picking up its pace. The last time I was at the Dragons Guildhall in Beavercreek, OH, I picked up a box from the Star Wars Legion line. I know its figs are a bit overscale, but these were B1 Battle Droids, so I figured it'd be okay. I mean, how tall is a battle droid supposed to be, really? 

    The B1 Battle Droids will supplement my Machines force for Xenos Rampant, finishing it up
When I got home, I opened up the box, and smacked my forehead, "Oh, no!" Nothing that looked like a droid was attached to the sprues -- WAY too many individual pieces for me to glue together. I took them to our regular Sunday night gaming session and handed them over to my friend Keith, who is skilled at assembling these fiddly types of models. He gave them back to me the next weekend and said it had taken him all of 15 minutes. For me, it would have been hours of frustration, maybe a little screaming, and possibly a broken droid or two...!

    I like the 'Imperial Gold' metallic paint I used on the droids, and the figs themselves look very cool
They seemed VERY spindly and fragile. So, I gave them a spray prime of Krylon matte black followed by a 50/50 water and acrylic black paint mixture. I figured I would need all the layers I could get to keep these mechanical ankles from snapping! Once they were done, I gave all four a head-to-toe ( or armored boot?) base coat of gray metallic craft paint. Then I did something I rarely do. I painted each miniature individually. First, I used an "Imperial Gold" craft paint to paint some of the metal parts of miniature. I left enough of the gray metallic in the recesses and on various other parts of the miniature to give a nice contrast, though. 

    Unlike most of the time, I painted these figures essentially one at a time because it seemed easier
The backpacks were done in a metallic brown, while I added a deep metallic red for their eyes (sensors?) and as glowing components on their weapons. For the eyes, I also added in a dot of a metallic pink in the middle of the red to hopefully give an impression of a more brightly glowing center of the sensor.  I did their backpack antennae in silver so that it would stick out from the rest of the miniature. Finally, after all four miniatures were done, I went over the entire figures with a black wash, weapons and all. I wanted the figures to gleam a bit, so I didn't use a particularly dark wash -- just enough to add some depth and shadow. All in all, these went fairly quickly. Each figure took more than an hour to do all the detail on, but it was easier to do them one by one. All four poses are different, so going from one figure to another at the same stage really wouldn't have helped with efficiency much. I'm happy with how they turned out!

    With only 4 droids in the box, I'm not sure what category of troop type they'll be in Xenos Rampant
I also completed a second squad of the Bronze Legion for Xenos Rampant. I went with a completely different approach this time. I painted the entire figure black first, then added the bronze metallic. Last time, I did the opposite -- bronze first, then adding the super-fine detailed lines for the black. Which was easier and faster? I think this way was, at least marginally. I also did not do multiple layers of the bronze as I knew the effect I was going for. I was counting on the final wash to flow into the recesses and do that highlighting step for me. Otherwise, it was the same basic plan for the first batch of miniatures. 

    The second squad of the Bronze Legion reporting for duty, getting that force closer to the tabletop
Since I'd ordered five of the Wiley Games marines for this squad, I didn't have to do a Reaper figure in this batch. They were all from the same 3-D printed line. I definitely like the Wiley Games miniatures. They are heftier and seem less fragile. I am not as worried about them snapping at the ankles or having arms break. If you haven't checked out their line of figures (they are most well known for their Fistful of Lead rules), I encourage you to do so.

    Two squads of the Bronze Legion guards a power station on an Earth-like planet
So, the Bronze Legion has two squads ready for its force. The Battle Droids were intended for the Machines army, so it is basically the first ready for the tabletop. Could I be just a few weeks away from hosting my first Xenos Rampant game? My friend Keith has LOTS of Sci-Fi forces painted up, so I could host a game tomorrow using his, if I wanted to do so. Check out his Orcafinn's Basement blog for the incredible variety of minis he's painted up. I particularly like his Tyrannids and they will likely appear in my first game.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Where the Dark Things Gather - Post-apoc Scenario #5

   A truce was struck between rival gangs to investigate who was snatching their people
For weeks, the local survivor gangs in the area had been talking about their encampments being stalked at night. Sentries disappeared at night and no trace of them could be found. Unwary women and children out too early in the morning or late in the evening were snatched up by what the locals began to call the "Dark Things." Those who had caught sight of them, described them as manlike, hairy, and dark. Every time anyone tried to follow their trail to hope to discover clues of their missing people, the trail was lost. 

    Players would select 4 gang members from their team of survivors to join the expedition

At first, some survivor gangs blamed it on each other. The Bass Reeves, in particular, were singled out as they also tended to be "dark and hairy." Worried about what might happen if the other gangs seized upon them as the culprits, Big Bass devoted all his resources and intellect to investigating the disappearances and attempting to track them. Finally, one of their scouts was able to follow a faint trail back to what appeared to be a research facility, or perhaps a prison. Several of the "Dark Things" were actively patrolling its perimeter, including along sandbags lining the roof. Cages stood out front and back, each with one or two people inside. The Dark Things entered and exited the steel doors from time to time.

    Big Bass, leader of the Bass Reeves survivor gang, worked behind the scenes to negotiate the truce

At that point, Big Bass took a risk and visited the encampments of the rival gangs in the area. He gave each a sketch of the location and facility made by his scout. He proposed a truce and a joint expedition to the research facility. The goal would be to get their people back, if possible, and find out who and what these creatures were. Not all of the gangs agreed. The Green Dragons' leader Ting was terse, "I will let you leave with your life, Bass, but don't come back. We know it's you taking our people - get lost!" The Barbarozas drew their weapons on him, and it was only the very ugly-looking shotgun he had pointed at the Barbaroza's leader which kept gunfire from breaking out.

    Three of the Bucknuts creep cautiously forward, out of the woods, and towards the fence

Big Bass was encouraged, though, that leaders of the Blood Brotherhood, Bucknuts, F Troop, Nightstalkers, and Followers of the Dark Prophet sent a message saying they would meet at the proposed rendezvous on the full moon. Each leader was to bring three men, so no one would be suspicious of a planned double-cross by a rival gang. After a day's travel, they reached a hilltop overlook where they could see the L-shaped building in the valley, surrounded by a chain link fence. The gate on its rollers appeared to be stuck more than halfway open, as grass had drown up around it. In the back, the two corners of the fence had gaping sections bent open. The Dark Things obviously used these to exit and enter the woods on either side.

    The Nightstalkers approach in column, hoping their optics and armor spot any foes and protect them

After a quick pow-wow, it was decided F Troop would approach along the treeline running beside the road towards the front gate. The Bucknuts would approach from the opposite side towards the back part of the building. The Blood Brotherhood and Nightstalkers would approach one of the other sides, and the Bass Reeves and Followers of the Dark Prophet the other. The six survivor gangs would close in on the facility from all four sides like a vice, hopefully preventing any escape. They decided to approach in daylight, as the Dark Things were obviously comfortable operating at night and no one had any night vision equipment. Coordinated, the six gangs crept closer and closer, keeping out of sight of the four massive Dark Things toting assault rifles on the sandbagged roof. They looked like massive gorillas, but walked upright like men and wore clothes and boots. These were nothing any of the men or women had heard of before or since the war against the machines.

Fenced-in facility, with 4 Dark Things atop the roof. F Troop would lead the approach along the road

The Nightstalkers approached in a column towards the back corner of the open fence. The optics on their helmets clearly revealed a well-trodden path from the facility into the woods. As Hunter Ryker swept his gaze to his left, he spotted movement in the trees. He called out a quick warning and pointed, "Dark Thing -- in the trees, 3 o'clock!" As his compatriots swiveled their heads to the left, a long burst of automatic rifle fire rang out and dust kicked up around the first three men in the column. Ryker and Commander Zander both went down. "I'm good," Ryker said, more in surprise as he picked himself up. He could see dents from the slugs in at least three places on his armor pads. Meanwhile, Zander stayed down, shook his head and grunted, "I'm hit!"  

    A chimpanzee scout in the trees opens up on the column of the Nightstalkers as they approach

We use Wiley Games' Core Rules for our post-apocalyptic games. The Nightstalkers have Light Armor as a team trait, and Keith rolled VERY fortunately. Needing an 8+ on a d10 to deflect the hits with his armor, he was 2-for-2. I was controlling the Dark Things and had actually rolled the Wounds before we remembered his armor save. Zander should have been "Out of Action" and Ryker wounded. However, the drawback of burst fire (which allows a shooter to hit multiple targets) is that there is a chance for being out of ammunition. After the shots, I checked and the Chimpanzee Scout had indeed emptied his clip. He hopped down out of the tree and withdrew deeper into the woods so he couldn't be shot at with the visibility rules.

    Gorilla guards on the rooftop proved tough to hit, being in heavy cover and initially at long range

All Hell began to break loose. In addition to the four gorillas with automatic rifles in heavy cover on the roof, there were four chimp scouts in the trees at the corners of the battlefield. One of the Followers of the Dark Prophet went down wounded from another ambush shot from the trees. One of the gorilla guards took out Coop, the leader of the Bucknuts. We then recalled all the gang leaders have the"Nine Lives" trait. This reduces the first out of action result to "Wounded." Coop went down wounded until a Recovery roll could be made. However, it became apparent that simians were NOT good at trigger control. Three of the chimps and one of the gorillas were out of ammunition and had to spend a turn reloading after their first shots.

    Unfazed by the hail of automatic rifle fire, the Nightstalkers & Blood Brother dart towards the fence
One of the mechanics of the Core Rules is the order of activation. Players are dealt a hand of playing cards equally to the total number of figures they control. Some suits or numbers allow free actions, such as any "6" allowing a free reload. A Queen of Hearts grants an automatic wound recovery, or an Ace can be used as whatever card the player chooses. As good as the Dark Things' luck had been on shooting (the players were conspiring at several points to confiscate my orange, 10-sided die!), misfortune began to strike the simians. First, so many out of my out of ammo rolls were failed (only a 20-30% chance). And, on the following turn, I received no "6" cards or aces. This gave the survivor gangs a chance to catch their breath while more than half of the Dark Things had to reload. Not only that, all of the players with wounded figures seemed to have been dealt a Queen of Hearts or an Ace and were soon back on their feet!

    A chimp knocks Pvt. Hippie out of action, but Pvt. Lombardi of F Troop bravely rushes to the rescue
Although two of the chimp scouts withdrew into the woods, one remained in the trees to keep shooting. I figured that, with a -1 for light cover and another -1 for the chimp's "Stealthy" trait, he'd be okay. However, the Followers of the Dark Prophet charged towards the shooter aggressively, narrowing the range to Short. Oops! The "10" on a d10 to be hit just dropped to a "7"!! Allen is know for his "in your face" aggressive tactics and he was the first to fire back and take out a chimp. The out of ammo chimp who'd wounded an F Troop soldier decided on another tactic, though. He charged the nearest enemy -- Private Hippie. One of the chimp traits is "Brawler," meant to reflect a savagery in hand-to-hand combat. I also played a "2," which allowed me to roll two dice and choose the best result. The ex-National Guardsman went down, out of action, to the howling, angry chimp.

    The Blood Brotherhood advanced quickly through the fence and took position against the wall
Rather than be cowed by its savagery, the veterans of F Troop stepped back and gunned down the creature. On the opposite side of the table, the Bass Reeves had steadily been taking a shot at the closest gorilla guard on the roof, then ducking into the woods to avoid return fire. Eventually one of the shots hit home, and the force of the Dark Things continued to dwindle. Things were equally bloody on the Bucknuts' side of the table. Brutus and Jackie O were sprayed by gunfire from the gorilla and Brutus went down hard, out of action. The team's medic, Wrich, crept over to where his leader Coop lay, and eventually was able to heal him and get him back into the fight.

Chimp scout (not really armed with a flame thrower!) faces off against the Bucknuts' Jackie O
Jackie O decided to deal with the chimp who had retreated back into the woods towards the team's rear. She moved into the woods, but the clever scout was on "Opportunity Fire." True to ape form, he pulled the trigger and sprayed the woods till his clip was empty. Jackie O managed to avoid the fire and her return burst rattled the scout (shock marker). The chimp was enraged by the bullets whistling past his ear and charged. He walloped Jackie O, but her armor saved her from a wound. She then was able to get a clear shot and knocked him to the ground, wounded. This exchange was another sign that the simian die luck was fading. In melee, I had three die rerolls between the Brawler trait and my "2" card, The highest I could manage was a "6" on a 10-sided die. Still, Jackie had rolled a "1", so I should have had a chance to put her out of action. Nope. Another "1" -- just a shock marker!

   Building provided no protection to the chimp leader & orangutan once the men reached the windows
As the survivor gangs closed range, their fire on the chimp scouts and gorilla guards was proving much deadlier. Soon, three of the gorillas and all four chimps were out of action. The remaining gorilla darted to the hatchway in the middle of the roof and descended into the complex. The battle began to shift, with the survivor gangs moving closer to the walls of the facility. The Nightstalkers and Blood Brotherhood moved to the windows and spotted a chimp leader and a huge, hulking orangutan. Before the simians could react, the Blood Brotherhood sprayed the room with gunfire. The orangutan jumped in front of his leader and was riddled with bullets, out of action. The leader fell wounded, too. 

    Escape out the front door is cut off for the Dark Things by the Followers of the Dark Prophet

This started a cascade of bloodshed for the Dark Things inside the facility. The Nightstalkers opened up on full auto down the hallway, and more simians fell. What should have been their fortress proved to be a killing field. Eventually, unbeknown to the players, all survivors were heading towards the back door. They could tell enemies were outside the two front doors by the pounding on it as F Troop and the Followers of the Dark Prophet tried unsuccessfully to break in.

    With his brothers providing covering fire, Brother Foresight gets ready to slip through the window
Meanwhile, the Bass Reeves had entered through the rent in the fence on their side of the facility. They quickly recognized some of their children inside the wooden cages who'd been snatched by the Dark Things. One by one, they began to release the terrified kids and order them to dart out the fence towards their fellows waiting outside. Just as they released the second pair of captives, the metal double doors at the back swung open. Out leapt one of the gorilla guards, using the steel door as cover. He fired a long burst at the Blood Brotherhood clustered outside the window, hitting both the Grand Master and Brother Willpower, who fell to the ground wounded.
Bass Reeves begin to free the captives from the wooden cages the Dark Things were keeping them in

A few second later, another gorilla guard and then a smaller and more elderly looking orangutan hurried out. The gorilla fired at the survivors, but the orangutan headed for the pathway to the forest. Shouts from the survivor gangs alerted everyone to the attempted escape and multiple shots rang out. "Got him!" shouted Coop as the orangutan fell to the ground. Meanwhile, Brother Willpower shrugged off the effects of his gunshot wound, and stood to his feet. He hobbled over to the Grand Master, and applied first aid to him, bringing him back to his senses and up on his feet.

    Gorilla guards burst out of the back door spraying the area and knocking down three surivors
Next to fall were the gorilla guards who'd tried to cover the escape of their leaders. What had started out as a hazardous looking rescue mission for the survivor gangs, ended up as a turkey shoot. One by one, the gorillas and chimps were gunned down. We called the game when all that was left was a single chimp with two shock markers inside the facility. All captives had been freed from the cages, and the survivors could now go in and find their snatched fighters from the cells inside. The allies warily prowled the corridors and rooms of the combination research facility and prison, looking for clues. They were able to decipher that the Dark Ones were a product of the facility, and had apparently somehow overcome their creators and taken control. Best guess was that they were created during the war with the machines as a "super soldier" weapon to use against them.

    An orangutan attempts to escape through the gauntlet of gunfire from the survivors, but falls

Something had obviously occurred, though, allowing the simian soldiers to overcome their masters and kill them. Refuse strewn in the facility and outside led to another grisly guess. The people the Dark Things had been snatching? Those captives were food, and were butchered and eaten by the out-of-control simian biological weapons. Luckily, their rescue had come in time for each gang to rescue the one night guard from each of their gangs that had been snatched. Much as their curiosity tempted them to linger and discover more clues, they guessed that heavily trodden paths indicated that the Dark Things had spread out to other encampments. Some could be returning at any moment. So, it was agreed to pack up their things and go. The truce was renewed and grudges put on hold for one more day. The gangs carried their wounded out and back into the hills, splitting up to go their separate ways.

    The bio-engineered apes were the product of a "super soldier" program meant as a weapon against the machines
The fifth scenario of my post-apocalyptic campaign was a success, I felt. The players had fun and overcame their past grudges against each other. They cooperated well to take down the guards. I think this alliance was also forged and tempered early by my great shooting and wounding rolls to start the game. In the end, only three players lost fighters as out of action. All rolled well enough to save them and have them available for later games in the campaign. I liked the co-op feel of this game and will probably do another like it sooner or later. I think the next will be a free-for-all, though. I just have to figure out an objective for the next game with some immediacy to encourage them to give up their trust and detente and aim their guns at each other, again! Stay tuned for more adventures in the post-apocalyptic world of the war against the machines...!

Thursday, December 7, 2023

How About Some Blue-skinned Aliens for Xenos?

    My next squad for Xenos Rampant Sci-Fi games - from the Stargrave Mercenaries box
I am continuing to paint up squads for my Xenos Rampant project. This was my first batch of plastic miniatures from one of the Stargrave Mercenary boxes. Thanks to my friend Keith Finn giving me the correct glue to assemble the heads and arms to the torsos, I was able to actually put these together myself! You have to remember, I am the guy who likes to brag that the only thing I have successfully super-glued is my fingers to each other...haha! They are posed in front of another Miniature Building Authority building -- 10720 Arcade, from their Middle Eastern Series. This resin building came pre-painted, though I added some color in the mud bricks showing through and also the roof tiles. I also finished it off with a brown vehicle wash that I feel really gave it a warm glow.

    I used "Alien" heads for the torsos, and decided to paint them with blue skin and red eyes
I bought this box of miniatures from Shieldwall Gaming this past September at the Hold The Line convention in Port Clinton, OH. I actually glued them together a few months back, thinking I would use them for games of Galactic Heroes, or maybe Space Station Zero. So, I made sure to include guys holding briefcases or devices in one of their hands. I do like that you can mix up the weapons in these packs, but I still am not a fan of having to assemble my figures. At least these seems solid enough and won't snap at the knees like one of my 3-D printed Terminators did!

    The squad (Andorians from Star Trek?) deploy near the Miniature Building Authority arcade
From what I can see, forces in Xenos Rampant tend to have 4-5 squads. I figured it would be helpful to use my already painted up and ready for the tabletop post-apocalyptic survivor gangs as "cores" to build a force around. One of the most Sci-Fi looking of my gangs is Keith's Nightstalkers. I will likely need to paint up several more of them in metal to make that into two squads. They look a bit like the Stargrave Mercenaries, so I decided to do my best to mimic the color scheme of the Nightstalkers for this squad.

I was originally going to use these for smaller skirmishes, so chose hands holding various equipment
I thought these would paint up relatively quickly, but there were a lot of straps, ammo pouches, armor plates, and other details to put on. I began with a base coat of craft paint Khaki for their uniform. The web gear, holsters, and equipment or ammo pouches were done in a lighter craft paint called Wild Rice. Of course, these being 28mm figs, each color first got their own lighter dry brush shade over top (Howard Hues Khaki and white, respectively). The armor plates were done in metallic brown, which to me looks more golden-bronze. Think San Francisco 49ers football team helmet color. The weapons were done in Metallic Gray with highlights of the metallic brown and silver.

    "What was that...?" Squad turns to check out a noise from inside the arcade, showing their backside
When assembling the figures, I had chosen humanoid alien heads because...well, why not? So, how to make them look suitably alien? I decided to go with a light blue skin. I went with a base coat of sky blue and a wash of a deeper blue. For the eye sockets, I applied more of the blue closer to full strength and with less water. I then did my usual black oval for the eye -- and for an even more alien effect -- went with red eyes. I really like how they turned out! What are those blue-skinned, Star Trek aliens? Andorians? Well, no antennae here, but that was the effect I was shooting for!

    The squad regroups at the rear of the MBA pre-painted arcade (although touched up a bit by me)

Finally, it was time for the washes -- three different shades, in this case. I used my normal dark brown wash on the khaki uniform and lighter web gear and equipment. Next, I did my usual black wash on the armor and dark brown boots and straps. Finally, the weapons got a really dark black vehicle wash. I really like how that makes the weapons look a totally different shade than the rest of the figure. All in all, I was very happy with how this batch of figures turned out...well, other than them taking considerably longer than I thought they would! My usual Sci-Fi basing scheme of Fine Blended Gray Ballast (with a dark wash over it) and craft bricks finish them out. I hope you like them!

    A better shot of the roof of the Middle Eastern Arcade, with several Andorians on lookout

    Here is the post-apocalyptic survivor gang, Night Stalkers, I was trying to match this batch with