Revisiting Star Wars Legion

Earlier in the year I got really invested in Legion, the tabletop miniatures game in the Star Wars universe, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Having spent some time assembling and painting minis, I immediately got distracted (as all good hobby butterflys do) by terrain and re-utilising old toys for the tabletop.  A couple of vintage Kenner / Palitory AT-ATs were purchased from eBay (and then resold as I say sense), as were some Rebel Transports, a U-Wing and various other bits and pieces.

Then as often happens I just didn’t get to play the game.  I had a learning game with my good friend and gaming compadre, Mr.Hawkins, back in the Spring and then nothing.  This was partly due to the distraction of other shiny things, and partly because my best chance of getting a game was at my local club.  Due to other commitments I wasn’t able to get down and I missed most of the monthly meetings over the summer.

However this last Sunday I was finally able to Legion to the tabletop for a couple of games at Matlock and Dales WRG (at the request of another member who similarly had sat on the game for quite a while without actually playing).

I’m no good at reviews, but will say this (and have said so before); it’s a good game.  A very good game.  Bearing striking similarities to other Star Wars games in the Fantasy Flight catalogue (lots of tokens and cards, custom dice, the ‘surge’ mechanic), it seems to have ironed out some of the inconsistencies and clunkiness of games like Armada and Imperial Assault.  Adding to the mix an alternative unit activation mechanic and innovative and intuitive command and control element, this puts it above many similar games I have had experience of in the past. My opponent and I did get quite a few things wrong in the early rounds, but this wasn’t really noticed and didn’t interupt the cinematic flow of the game (I was making a lot of ‘pew pew’ sound effects in my head).

In getting ready for the game I wanted to just share a couple of hints and tips, both on the painting and army construction side of things.

While I had got at least a basecoat down on most of my miniatures (the contents of two core boxes and a handful of expansions), there were a few I had not yet touched.  It wouldn’t be realistic to get everthing done in time for the game (real life is quite hectic at the moment), but I at least wanted to be avoid playing with any completely unpainted models.

Therefore I concentrated on detailing up all the Imperial Stormtroopers I had previously undercoated white, adding in some basic detail and making them tabletop ready (with the intention of going back and finishing them off to a higher standard later).  Here, the humble toothpick was my friend.  Rather than rely on a brush and a steady hand to pick out the black details on helmets and armour and to minimise the chances of despoling that trademark white with any overbrushing I found toothpicks gave me the control and steadyness I needed (but maybe not the patience!).  This was particularly useful when doing helmet eye lenses and something I will try out for painting eyes in general moving forward.

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Small detail on the Stormtroopers applied using a toothpick. Note Revell TIE Fighter model kit as scenery (yes I know wrong era, but it does have working sound!)

My next job was to paint up the only fully unpainted squad I had not yet tackled, the Rebel Fleet Troopers.  These are the guys who valiantly get slaughtered by Darth Vader at the begining of the very first Star Wars film (and of course we now know this fight continued on from the end of Rogue One).  As figures go, I think these are some of the nicest that have been released so far.  Very characterful sculpts and true to the films.  I’d picked these guys up at UK Games Expo back in June, assembled them and then, well, got distracted…

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While they didn’t do too well on screen, they were pretty rock solid on the tabletop!

Taking a very methodical approach I blocked out each colour (having applied a grey undercoat).  Following a production line approach of doing all of one colour across the squad before returning to the first and adding the next hue I was able to get these guys done in only a couple of hours.  I left the dark grey undercoat showing through for the mainly black coloured vests and let Army Painter washes do the rest.

The squad leader is based on Captain Antilles from the film and follows a different scheme.  The intention with these is that I will go back and do some proper basing and highlighting at a later date.

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“If this is a consular ship, where is the ambassador?”

I have to say I’m not a huge fan of painting armies or even squads (I much prefer to do more individual character models): however the fact I was actually going to able to field these in a game was a real motivator.

The Rebel Fleet Troopers proved to be a really solid choice in play (and are my new favourites), having almost taken down Vader in the first game.  Some form of sweet revenge for their on screen performance perhaps?

Using Tabletop Admiral
Preparation and list building using Tabletop Admiral

I also just wanted to give a quick mention to the Tabletop Admiral online army building application for Legion.  I used this to quickly knock up the forces the night before the game allowing me to sort out cards, tokens and minis quickly beforehand and enabling us to setup quickly on the day.  If you are a player of Imperial Assault or Runewars this also might be of interest to you.

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My next distraction – Star Wars style buildings in MDF. Please note that no Play Doh was required for construction!

 

 

Empire of Men – Building the Stahlratte!

I recently received my pledge rewards from the Empire of Men Kickstarter campaign by Archon Studio.  The campaign was to fund production of a range of resin miniatures and vehicles, that although rules agnostic were clearly aimed at players of ‘grim dark’ games of the far future.

I was particularly attracted to this for the Weird World War look of some of the figures and vehicles.  The background fluff for the setting is based around a Great War that never ended, and many of the vehicles on offer have a distinctly German feel to them.

Without a particular game system in mind and due to limited funds I went for a small selection of troops and a few vehicles; figuring that I would enjoy the modelling and also falling back on my usual approach of ‘it’ll probably work for 7TV‘ (a ‘Moon Reich’ perhaps?)

So what did I get?  In addition to a handful of ‘stormtrooper’ troops I picked up the follow:

  • Reaper – a Horton style flying wing aircraft
  • Stalhratte Mk.1 – a super heavy tank that seems to draw it’s influences from the prototype World War II German Maus
  • Wolverine – a transport / medium tank option (probably the most 40k like of the lot)

First impressions on receiving delivery was that the casts were quite clean (particularly on the figures).  The grey resin is lightweight and looked easy to work with.  It looks and feels more like plastic, is soft (but not too soft) and not at all brittle.

The part count for the vehicles is quite low, meaning in particular for the Stahlratte there are some quite chunky pieces of resin.  Once unboxed and gave the parts a good wash in hot soapy water to remove casting residue and make then easier to assemble.

So, I really couldn’t resist assembling the big fella first.  All the parts seemed to come with peg joints and inserts, so theoretically it should be possible to do a dry fit before assembly.  After an initial clean up primarily around the joints and edges to remove casting vents I attempted to ‘clip’ the Stahlratte together.  It immediately became apparent that some of the parts were warped to some degree, so of course (as always when working with resin) having to boiling water to hand to soften and reshape was a must.  Many of the issues were with the small peg joints so I found imersing these in water to make more malleable and ‘clipping’ together while still soft was the way to go.  At this point I also decided to glue pieces in place as I got a good fit (using superglue and activator).

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Top and bottom hull – note connector pegs
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Soaking connector pegs
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Tracks, turret and hull
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Turret – two piece assembly
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Top hull
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Part assembly

At this point things were beginning to take shape, but it was becoming apparent that a LOT of work would be needed to fill the gaps.

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Gaps prior to filling

A generous application of green stuff and voila an almost completed Stahlratte Mk.1

All that remained was tho straighten up some of the gun barrels and attached to the turret.  I’ve decided to keep the turret and hull seperate for painting, so the pictures show one just delicately balanced on the other for the time being.

All in all I really enjoyed putting this together.  It was more work than I originally expected when opening the box, but I think that is to be expected when working with resin (especially considering the budget price point).  If anything I found the gap filling quite cathartic!

Next time – The Wolverine and Reaper!

7TV Apocalypse – Modding Die Cast Vehicles Part 1

Continuing my forays into the post apocalypse!

I’ve build up a fairly sizeable collection of 1/43 to 1/48 scale diecast toy cars to mod up.  Using various bits and pieces including some very useful Tamiya plastic sand bags and some really old Gorkamorka sprues alongside the new range of resin bits from Crooked Dice.

The vehicles were sourced mainly from discount stores (Poundworld Plus, The Works etc.), but also from China via Ali-Express.cars1cars7cars8

The first one on the production line is intended for my cast/warband of PA militia.  The base toy here is a Teamsterz Mobile Police HQ truck (approx. 1/43 scale).

Relatively simple conversion, although I had to remove the ventilation fans and hatchway (now added to the bits box) from the roof before adding some resin stowage bits from Crooked Dice.  The turrent and gunner are also from the new 7TV Apocalypse range by CD.

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Road Warriors and Freeway Fighters

Post Apocalypse (PA) is all the rage nowadays. However the overarching theme and context no longer tends to be the aftermath of global conflict or nuclear armageddon, but the encroachment of the walking dead or the dystopian future nightmares of settings first originated by the likes of Orwell and entrenched in popular culture by the likes of The Handmaids Tale.

This kind of speculative fiction tends to be reflective of current social and geo-political conditions. From a tabletop gaming perspective while many of these themes and settings are future based, you can easily identify the time period in which they originated and were written. However trends have a way of coming back.

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Recently we have seen an upturn in the emergence of the traditional post-nuclear PA settings, particularly that wasteland populated by road warriors and freeway fighters inspired by a certain style of movies from the early eighties and starting of course with Mad Max. Part of this can be explained by the cycle of nostalgia that appears to work on 30 year intervals. Recent games and rulesets like Gaslands, Devils Run Route 666 and the upcoming 7TV Apocalypse capture this feel. If you want to roll back to the steps leading up to armageddon there is a renewed interest in Cold War Gone Hot and World War III with the likes of Team Yankee and the upcoming Battlegroup NORTHAG.

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My current favourite set of rules are 7TV by Crooked Dice Game Design Studio. A great and most importantly fun game that effectively allows your to recreate TV shows (and films) on your tabletop with tongue usually firmly in cheek. In fact the game is effectively a game about making a TV series. You dont have armies or warbands, you put together a cast containing stars, co-stars and extras. You spend ‘plot points’ to take actions, the card driven event mechanic allows things such as continuity mistakes, special effects mistakes and issues with difficult stars to affect gameplay. Now in its second edition the game is primarily focussed on the spy-fy genre (think Bond, Gerry Anderson, the ITC action series of the 60s), is figure agnostic but is supported by a great range of 28mm scale miniatures available directly from Crooked Dice.

7TV is branching out soon into the Post Apocalypse, with a standalone game that takes the core mechanics of second edition and tweaks the flavour and setting. Most notably the existing vehicle rules have been expanded to accomodate those Road Warrior type scenarios. The full game is due to hit Kickstarter this Autumn, but I had the opportunity back in July to attend a play test / campaign day to try out these rules.

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One of the coolest things about this sort of thing from a hobbyists point of view is the creativity that it allows for things like conversions and sourcing figures. For the play test day I had to put together a cast and include a suitably post-apocalypsed up vehicle. I went for a ‘big rig’ approach and with a nod to 7TVs cult tv background a cast based around Garth Knight and his Goliath truck from Knightrider (imaging after the fall of society Garthe would be a magnet for scavengers and marauders).

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Since then I’ve been bitten hard by the bug and have spent more time sourcing vehicles, bits, conversion parts and miniatures. This blog series will cover this project in detail as I prepare, strap on my survivalist gear, rev up the V8, scavenge the gasoline and face the white line nightmare of the wastelands.

Post-Apocalypse Terrain Build (with biscuit tins)

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Wargames Illustrated 7TV Apocalypse Day held in the wonderful surroundings of Wargames Foundry on the outskirts of Newark.
The day was all about having fun testing out the new 7TV variant rules for gaming in a wide variety of post-apocalypse settings.  Although aimed at a wide variety of sub-genres within the PA setting, one of the key additions to the core game was expanded vehicle and vehicle combat rules.

Therefore preparation for the day included building a suitable vehicle to carry your cast and fight it out with.

Some excellent terrain and scenery was provided on the day, but coming back I had the real desire to knock together something of my own.

I’d been hoarding some bits and pieces recently and what better to fight over in the ‘white line nightmare’ of the future than the precious gasoline.

So behold the start of the ‘biscuit tin oil refinery’…

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The fundamentals of this build are biscuit tins.  First thing before anything else could be started then was to eat all the biscuits. An arduous task, but one I achieved with bravery and resolve.

Many years ago I backed the first Mantic Deadzone Kickstarter, I never really got into the game and off loaded most of it, apart from the excellent Battlezones scenery bits and pieces.  To dress up the basic tins which would act as the silo/tank I used some of the Battlezones ladders and a few other bits and pieces.

To provide the upright struts around the tank (and to make it look less biscuit tin like) I used off cut pieces of plastic sprues.

To provide a base I used some ‘magazine dividers’ which are effectively quite thick plasticard.

The plasticard base was trimmed to make it look less like a piece of stationary, and then marked out with areas where paths and pools of ‘toxic waste’ would be placed.

A mix of modelling sand and PVA was whipped up and slopped on (technical term), leaving space for the marked out areas.

Taking advantage of the very un-British summer this was left out in the blazing heat for a while to set.

I wanted to go with a downbeat weathered look and knew I wanted it to look rusty and abandoned.  First base colour then was Army Painter Chaotic Red to provide that underlying feel.


Light sprays of Russian Green were then used to add the primary hues, leaving the dark red showing underneath.

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After having left it to dry for a while I then scuffed up key areas using a kitchen scouring pad to scratch off layers of paint to try and reveal the underlying red (and in some cases original biscuit tin colours).


I used (the now sadly out of production) Modelmates paint on rust effects to properly weather it up, concentrating on scuffed areas,  the areas where the two original tins met (rather than hiding the join I thought I’d make use of it.  I also concentrated on the areas where the ‘pipes’ joined the base of the silo.  In addition the ladders were rusted up in key areas.


A covering of Plastic Soldier Company Dirt Brown weathering spray was then used all over and after a few minutes was smeared and sponged using some old blister pack foam.

The foam was then broken out again to use the ‘sponging chipping’ technique using a dark brown paint.

Having completed the bulk of the paint work on the silo itself, I set about the base.  A generous coat of brown artists acrylic paint was applied followed by an initial dry brush.  This was then followed up by painting on some Army Painter Strong Tone dip.

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Following (the faster than usual due to the summer heat) drying time of the Quickshade I then did a  lighter brown drybrushe followed by a light dusting of Army Painter Skeleton Bone.

Wasteland tufts from Army Painter were used to add detail (especially around the edges of the structure).

I’d previously left some gaps in the original sand-PVA mix on the base board with the intention of using these as pools of some sort.  In fitting with the wasteland setting these became toxic waste deposits, so I finally found a use for that pot of Citadel Nurgle’s Rot technical paint I’ve had lying around for years.

The space I had left for pathways was painted dark grey and then roughly stipled with a lighter grey to give the impreseion of gravel or worn tarmac.

Pipe work and barrels were picked out with Foundry Blackened Barrel (my absolute favourite metallic paint – ideal for guns – as it says on the tin!).  A bit more ‘toxic sludge’ was added to the top of one of the barrels.

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Finally I dived into the bits box of decals and applied some warning signs in key locations and chose the deliberately ominous ’13’ for the silo’s primary identification!

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And that about does it, all that remains is to seal down the decals and apply a bit of weathering to them.

I’ll be trying something similar again (this time with laundry pod containers) in preparation for a table on which to play 7TV Apocalypse!

I originally published this article as a Project Blog using the new functionality on Beasts of War.  I’d highly recommend folk check this community and feature out.  It’s a great way to share ideas and get feedback on any hobby related activities.  (To access the projects functionality you will need to sign up as a ‘backstage member’, there is a free 7 day trial if you want to try it out).

7TV Apocalypse Campaign Day – Part 1

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd annual 7TV Campaign Day organised by Wargames Illustrated and held in the wonderful surroundings of Foundry Miniatures at Stoke Hall near Newark.

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7TV is a game system very close to my heart.  As a fan of cult TV and a gamer when Crooked Dice first began releasing figures a few years ago I lapped them up.  It’s only recently since I closed my wargaming business and joining a club that I have got to play wargames regularly and 7TV has been a go-to game.

I’m not going to do a full review of the game here, only to say it’s fun.  A lot of fun.  And very flexible.  If like me you just like collecting models and miniatures because they look cool then this is the game for you.  After all 7TV is a game about making a TV programme and you can just about make a TV programme about anything (as is all too apparent if you switch it on nowadays – I’m looking at you Channel 5).

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So in addition to the usual Spy-Fi tropes that the game tends to be focussed on there is also the possibility of doing sci-fi (half a dozen or so rebels against an evil Federation perhaps), historicals (maybe that one series where Sean Bean doesn’t die) and of course the big screen across multiple genres.

Coming up later this year (and due to be funded via Kickstarter) is 7TV Apocalypse.  This will be a complete game system based on 7TV 2nd Edition focused on recreating and gaming in post apocalyptic (PA) settings.  Nowadays PA settings tend to mean Zombies (and indeed there was a variant of 1st Edition 7TV that covered this).  However the new game is wider than that, think: Mad Max, Day of the Triffids, Survivors, Threads (*shudder*), 28 Days Later, Children of Men and so on.  (Zombies will be in there too!)

Taking the first example of Mad Max, one of the key additions to the rules is a more comprehensive way of dealing with vehicles and vehicular combat in order to replicate the ‘white line fever’ of ‘a few years from now’.  In addition to this there will be an associated set of new archetypes and a tweak to the Heroes/Villains approach of the Spy-Fi version (no one is a good guy in the wastelands).

The game is due to go to Kickstarter in Autumn and will hoping fund both a box set and a whole pile of lead and resin.  Karl at Crooked Dice has begun to release a number of miniatures and vehicles already and you can check some of them out here.

The campaign day would be an opportunity for a group of 7TV enthusiasts to get together to try out these new rules and feedback on them, while having a relaxed day of gaming with like minded individuals.

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Having been provided a copy of the beta rules a few weeks beforehand, attendess were asked to put together a ‘cast’ for the day, including a suitably modelled post apolaypse style vehicle.  I was originally going to go down the Action Force route and put together a Red Shadows faction with some support.  Then I remembered the 1:48 scale toy truck I had bought a few months ago when the ‘not’ Michael Knight figure was released by Crooked Dice.  My original intention was to model up Goliath and the evil Garthe King for use in a standard game of 7TV; so why not apocalypse it up a bit?

I needed to flesh out the rest of my cast and found a set of miniatures I got years ago for ‘Across the Dead Earth’, and so Garthe and the Red Claw gang were born.

Next time I’ll cover the day in detail and go into some detail as to how the games went, as well as waxing lyrical about the venue.

So in true TV style – End of Part One (we’ll be back after these messages)!

UK Games Expo Roundup

At the beginning of the month I had the pleasure of spending two days with friends at the NEC in Birmingham at UK Games Expo 2018.  This was my second year attending as a punter (I first attended in 2016 when I was trading as Twisted Pinnacle Games).

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Lots has been said elsewhere on the interweb about the show so I’m not going to do a full review here, just to say what an enjoyable and excellent time we all had.  Since moving from being solely at the Hilton Hotel to the NEC proper in 2016 the event has continued to grow and this year spread into a second exhibition hall.

 

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Hall 1 (it got a LOT busier)

 

There was the usual eclectic mix of traders and exhibitors (including a noticeable incease in the number of wargaming companies this year).  If one lacks self-control (like I tend to) then there is a tempatation at this sort of thing to go on an orgy of shopping. While this is certainly possible at UKGE it is somewhat eclipsed by the sheer number of opportunities to actually sit down and play games of all different shapes and sizes.  Be this companies demoing on their own stands, distributors like Esdevium/Asmodee UK or the much expanded open gaming areas (a real success this year with the opening of the second hall), there was simply so much choice.

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Open gaming in Hall 2

It’s also worth making a note on the atmosphere and demographic.  This is a very family friendly show and it was encouraging to not only see lots of kids and families present, but also a good male-female split (very different to wargaming shows).  My friend’s ten year old lad had a fantastic time at the specially organised children’s roleplaying games area.  There was also a family zone run by Imagination Gaming which provided the opportunity to play lots of different sorts of games aimed at the younger age groups.  I am thinking that next year it’ll be possible to bring my six year old daughter along and keep her entertained for the duration.

 

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Swag!

 

So, I wasn’t that good and did end up spending quite a bit while I was there (to be fair I had been saving and have had a massive clearout recently).  My swag for the day is pictured above – I was mainly concentrating on stuff for Star Wars Legion and was luckly to pick up one of only a handful of the newly released Rebel Fleet Trooper boxes on the Friday.  TTCombat ended up getting a lot of my money with their really affordable MDF scenery (mainly for Legion again).  My other big love at the moment is 7tv and Crooked Dice were present selling all sorts of cult TV and cinema related miniatures.

All in all a great couple of days, and I’mm looking forward to next year already.

Oh, and talking about 7tv, ‘The Apocalypse’ is coming – more on that soon…..

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