A couple of weeks back, prior to the latest pandemic restrictions kicking in in our particular area of England I actually managed to play a game of something. In this case Warhammer 40k, which I have not played for over a year.
This was the first time playing 9th edition and having sold most of my 40k miniatures I was able to borrow a force and be guided through a game by my good friend Jamie.
We played the new ‘combat patrol‘ rules which allows you to play smaller quicker games, but without skimping on the big units (and in my case as a dyed in the wool Imperial Guard player….TANKS!).
Now I am not brilliant at remembering rules and am never paricularly scientific about analysing games, but my main conclusion here is that 9th was a lot, lot more fun than 8th.
I played Guard facing off against Orks. Extra narrative was added by using the new set of ‘Open War‘ cards. These allow you to setup and play fun games really quickly and include things like deployment, objectives, twists, ruses and sudden death!
The game started off well for me with an initiative win and proceeded fairly positively from then on. It was back and forth and most importantly based on my previous more negative experiences was fast! Even though the turn sequence followed the standard IGOUGO format that Warhammer has been using for decades it felt fluid and interesting. This was helped significantly by some of the new rules (in particular the ability for vehicles to fire in close combat and not get bogged down), but also by the open war cards and the smaller force and table sizes enabled by the combat patrol rules.
The game lasted about two and half hours (yes we actually played a game to a five turn conclusion) – thank you again combat patrol! Apparently this was one of the longer games Jamie has played in the format. This bodes well for evening games once we are able to meet face-to-face again.
And, although it is never my reason for playing any game, I actually got a victory under my belt. Yup, I actually won something! The MVPs in my borrowed Cadian force were my mortar team and my off table support. Nuking the site from orbit – it is always the only way to be sure.
One of my longest ongoing jobs has been the completion of the epic Projekt X. This massive chunk of plastic comes in it’s own boxed expansion and is some sort of horrific zombie mecha type beast. I’ve not read the background yet, so I am not quite sure on the exact details, but needless to say this bad boy would involve a mix of both armour and organic style painting. (Also it is possibly one of the heaviest miniatures I have ever held.)
Following a good soapy wash and drying the model was undercoated in black and then given a zenith highlight with a white spray. The armour panels were airbrushed up from a dark grey through two subsequent successive highlights using Vallejo Air paints.
The organic parts were painted with a Citadel contrast flesh. The ‘pustules’ all over the model were then painted white before an application of a contrast yellow and then a purple wash.
Prior to weathering I dug into my decals stash and found some suitable World War 2 German transfers from both some historical kits, but also a big pile of Dust Tactics sheets I had left over from stock when I ran the shop.
These were applied on top of a gloss varnish and once dry I used a sponge to apply chipping across the armour plates using a dark brown. Metal parts were then blocked out and I used dark grey contrast to shade these.
The faces were further highlighted in purples and fleshes to help them stand out, with various other bits such as cabling and the base being detailed and finished off. The whole lot was then topped off with a good once over of Testors Dullcote.
More recently I have also been working my way through some of the ‘minions’ in the set as well as some of the more ‘gribbly creatures’ that are included. For the latter I wanted a quick paint job so contrast was heavily used.
The slightly more human figures were painted in a slightly more traditional style using one of the best paint sets I have ever invested in – a German uniform set from Andrea Color I bought from a show about 5 years ago. Makes painting field grey a joy and useful across historicals as well as weird war and science fiction. (In fact I have recently been working on some Star Wars Imperial types and this set has come in very useful – more on that soon.)
I’ve still got plenty to finish off with Reichbusters and have not yet had a look at any of the hero models. For board game miniatures they are a real step up in terms of quality and a joy to paint, which I am sure I will still be doing for many months to come.
First off, many thanks to Karl at Crooked Dice for asking me to help out and run a game alongside his trade stand on the day. As many may know Hammerhead is quite unique in the wargaming calendar in being a show that is 100% based around participation games. No ‘just watching’ here; it’s all about having a go.
I therefore wanted to make it as easy as possible for folk to play and to that end I had a set of pre-built casts ready to go.
I stuck mostly with the format and setup I had trialled at the club a few weeks earlier, with some minor changes to the bad guys in particular (as I had finished painting a squad of Pulp Figures Jet Troopen that I really wanted to field).
I also made a few changes to the scenario, dropping the peril cards but utilising the ‘Ark of the Convenant’ macguffin card. I fleshed out a bit of the background and set the game up as the last part of a 12 part cinema serial called ‘The Doom of Stahl Mask’. Stahl Mask was the titular villian and another great mini from Pulp Figures.
In addition to the ‘opening crawl’ I also dug out some quick reference sheets I’d picked up at a previous event and made sure each player had easy access to a plentiful supply of tokens for plot points and that dice and tape measures were close to hand.
I arrived in plenty of time to setup and having done a test setup of the table earlier in the week was able to set out the game fairly quickly.
Despite a bit of waiting around after the doors opened I soon had my first punters. A chap and his teenage son who had played the game before (at Hammerhead the previous year) and who were keen to give the new Pulp rules a go. This game was a joy to run as they both really got into the spirit (and ridiculousness) of the game and plot. I am terrible at remembering the details of games, but this went pretty much down to the last ‘cliffhanger’ card.
Almost immediately I had another set of players keen to give the game a go. Another father and son duo with previous experience, this was again a fun game to run through and at times attracted quite a crowd (viewing figures were high!)
And then straight into yet another game! This time with a pair of novices. Now this was a bit more of a challenge, partly because I had to spend longer on laying out the rules and helping out with some decision making; but mostly because my players were also trying to keep a couple of young ones from getting too board while they were playing.
All of a sudden it was 3.30pm and the show was nearly over! Just like that! I’d done three full back-to-back games without much of a break in between. I managed to get a very quick look round the show and was able to pick up a few goodies from Karl (as well as a set of command cards for Iron Cross from the Great Escape Games stand).
I packed up utterly exhausted, but really pleased I had been able to run the game without too much of a hiccup and almost constantly throughout the day. This was my first visit to Hammerhead (and the Newark Showground venue) in any capacity (I never managed to get in when I was trading). I obviously didn’t get too much chance to look around, but it seemed quite busy (I think a lot of people realised that this might be their last chance to get out to a show for a while) and the venue was light and airy (albeit a bit chilly too).
I really look forward to the opportunity to do the same again sometime. Sadly with the current global situation all shows (including planned games at Chillcon Sheffield and the next 7TV day at Dales Wargames) are now on hold, but I see this as an opportunity to plan out some new episodes and maybe get that ‘secret’ base finally finished!
Oh and of course I mustn’t forget the fact that I was able to pickup my 7TV Pulp Sci Fi pledge on the day…..
Just prior to Christmas I picked up a copy of the newly released Cthulhu Death May Die board game by CMON. This was another case of miniatures, rather than game driving my purchase decision. In fact it was yet another case of thinking ‘oh I could use them in 7TV’, 7TV Pulp to be precise.
I’ve played quite a few Cthulhu themed games and continue to quite regularly with my weekly board gaming chums. Favourites include, Mansions of Madness and the epic Cthulhu Wars. The general consensus in our circle when Death May Die was launched originally on Kickstarter some time ago, was that although it looked nice and had the usual high quality components and miniatures that CMON regularly knock out, the theme and general approach seemed a bit too ‘shooty’ and not ‘investigator focussed’ enough for the setting.
Fast forward and I am browsing the posts on the 7TV Productions Facebook page and see a size comparison of 28mm scale Crooked Dice minis and the one-piece pre-assembled plastics from Death May Die. The size is almost spot on, maybe a touch larger than 28mm, but certainly not too noticeable. The sculpts themselves are lovely, with a nice mix of character models, minions and monsters. Way back in the day I went in heavily on the original Zombicide game and expansions. I have to say in comparison to this, the quality of the minis that CMON are producing for their board games has improved leaps and bounds. Clean and crisp, with none of the old problems of thin bendy bits or soft detail. There is the usual issue when using board game miniatures with skirmish wargames that your troops or minions tend to be all of a single or limited number of poses, but I can live with that.
With 7TV Pulp having a very much Cthulhu inspired theme as one of its genres I took the opportunity not only to pick up the core box of Death May Die, but also a few of the expansions. There are some really nice big monster models here that I hope to be able to use with the upcoming release of the 7TV Menagerie of Terror card set.
The miniatures themselves are all one piece or pre-assembled in a quite hard PVC plastic which has made painting relatively easy. Using mostly contrast paints over primarily a white undercoat I have started so far on the minions and monsters with a view to ploughing through these and spending more time on the character models later.
While I will probably give the actual game a try at some point,in the meantime I am cracking on with the painting, including the big fella himself…..
Since my last visit the store had expanded into the full building it previously only occupied a part of. In fact the day of the event was the last full day at that location as they are moving to new expanded premises. As someone who struggled in the retail side of the industry it is heartening to see a local games store doing well and able to expand in this way.
While hosted by Simon of Board in Brum, the event was organised by the talented Mike Strong, who has a track record of adding some great additional narrative to these events. In true 7TV style this involved the ‘production studio’ having to cut back on costs, so across the three games in the day there were various additional objectives added in to try and keep the accountants at ‘Baron Studios’ happy. At the end of each game, based on your success at meeting these objectives (for example moving your cast the least amount of space across the board to save on cost) additional bonuses or abilities were made available for the next game. There was even a ‘scoreboard’ so the accountants could keep track of which producers were in the black and which were in the red.
The event followed a standard pattern of three games at 40 ratings each. This allowed for compact games run on either 3 by 3 or 4 by 4 tables with some flexibility on the number of stars and co-stars. This allowed me to take a reasonably sized cast, for which this time I chose Baron Ironblood and his Red Shadows using the ‘official’ profile cards for these characters published in the 7TV 1967 Annual.
There were a number of excellent tables available on the day, some provided by the venue, others brought by attendees. I brought along my secret Nazi rocket base complete with V2 launch site and Haunbau flying saucer (neatly parked in a stone circle).
Also worthy of mention was Mike’s Venetian layout (complete with what I can only assume was a lost submarine), David’s sinister funfair and Paul’s hex based ‘Children of the Fields’ themed setup. In fact there was a surplus of boards available on the day and we ended up sharing these with a Marvel Crisis Protocol event that was also taking place at the same time. (Which reminds me I need to finish of painting up my set for a game at the next Dales Meeting in February).
My first game was against my old adversary Kieron, who had somehow made his 40 ratings stretch to a 30 plus figure cast. There was a reason for this and that reason was…..zombies. Now I usually have epic bad luck with dice when playing against Kieron and this was no different.
Playing on my V2 rocket site board things started off bad and continued from there as two of my extras were immediately infected and replaced with zombies and the rest of the horde started their relentless stumble across the board towards the Baron and his fanatical followers. I’m terrible at remembering the specific details of games so I’d point you towards Kieron’s blog for an excellent narrative overview of the ‘episode’.
Unlike previous games between us, we did at least get through the first act and in fact managed to play through to the end of the countdown deck. The upshot was a win in terms of victory points for my opponent and ‘a slip into the red’ for me as a producer.
The second game of the day followed on from lunch and I found myself up against Simon and his gang of wasteland marauders.
This cast took a similar approach to the zombies with a single star and lots of lots of expendable extras. While not quite the size of the previous cast I’d faced, it did give me plenty of opportunity for some target practice for my fanatical Red Shadows.
Somehow all the bad dice luck I had had in the previous game was immediately passed over to my opponent who had some truly horrendous bad luck with his rolls. Again we managed to play through the full episode (the cost saving aspect for the studio here was that a bonus was conferred to the player who burnt through the most countdown cards). Despite losing a larger proportion of my cast I just about sqweaked a win in terms of victory points, although we both ended up with the same number of countdown cards, which at least meant I’d moved out of the red into the ‘grey’ prior to the final game of the day.
My final game of the day was against David and his biker gang. We played this on Kieron’s city table. It was a standard ‘steal’ scenario in which the defender had to keep and defend the Macguffin from the attacker.
I ended up with the Macguffin to start with and to my delight and my opponents dismay the random gadget I ended up drawing for this was the jet pack. Queue a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse was airbourne for much of the time, in what can only be described as a valiant rearguard action (i.e. I spent much of the game, running away).
The added cost saving objective for this game was to end the episode with the most left over plot points. Running entirely against type I managed to achieve this as David my opponent valiantly tried but ultimately failed to retrieve the Macguffin, burning through many of his remaining plot points to do so on the final turn.
All in all three cracking games, a well organised event at a friendly venue against a great bunch of opponents with lots of laughs. Just what a 7TV event should be.
I was also delighted to come away from the day with the prize for best table layout (goodies already ordered from Crooked Dice).
The next day at Board in Brum (at their new venue) is tentatively scheduled for September or October this year. I’d heartily recommend checking out the 7TV Productions Facebook group for all the latest news.
The Action Force project continues. I’ve recently arranged to run a participation game of 7TV at an upcoming show in 2020, and am going to run an Action Force scenario. This is likely to be an assault on the Baron’s secret base by our brave heroes.
I’ve already got ideas around the setup and my recently completed submarine will be making an appearence. Therefore an amphibious assault on a port seems like a great idea. As such I need a way to deliver my forces to the combat zone.
Enter the Action Force hovercraft.
More commonly known as the G.I.Joe Killer W.H.A.L.E this was a toy that was released originally in the third wave of releases by Palitoy in the mid-1980s. By this stage the range was almost exclusively repackaged G.I.Joe figures and vehicles. The background (supported by the weekly Battle Action Force comic) had shifted to a combined Action Force team facing off against the forces of Cobra.
Now at the time I loved this change, but in retrospect my heart always lay with the original Baron Ironblood and the Red Shadows setup. Subsequently this is where the focus of my 28mm scale Action Force wargaming has been.
However, never one to let ‘canon’ get in the way of a good gaming project I’ve decided to model my hovercraft, rather than as a combined Action Force vehicle, as if it were part of the Q Force armoury. As a reminder the original Action Force organisation was split into four arms; Z Force (the infantry backbone), SAS Force (special ops), Space Force (does what it says on the tin) and Q Force (the naval team).
Q Force (like Space Force), never got quite as much love as their land based cousins, so the toy range wasn’t quite as wide in terms of figures or indeed vehicles. What there was though was great. The vehicle sets were original and designed by Palitoy (i.e. they were not G.I.Joe repaints).
Wanting the hovercraft to feel like part of Q Force means looking at an alternative to the quite dull green original scheme. So we are looking primarily at greys and blues with red and yellow accents.
All this talk of colour schemes is very good, but first of course I needed a model. Enter Thingiverse and the world of 3D printing. Having located an amazing model I set this going on my 3D printer and a mere 45 hours later I had the following:
Interestingly this model was originally scaled as per the original toy, which was huge (and always coveted by me as a boy). In order to scale this for 28mm gaming I reduced the print size by 45%.
Clean up was a challenge particularly removing the generated supports on the propellors. I basically had to break these and manually rebuild them (with the addition of some plasticard and plastic filler). The plan is to print two more in the future, and I think I will try printing without supports next time and see what happens.
The model was undercoated using a light grey Halfords car primer. I went quite close and thick with this in order to compensate for some of the layer lines that are an artefact of this type of 3D printing. In combination with a pre-undercoat sanding the finish turned out quite smooth.
So back to the colour scheme and working out a Q Force style livery. I wanted to keep the main body of the craft a traditional naval style grey so went at this with the airbrush using three successively light coats. Once this was dry it was time to block out some colours. It was all brush work from this point on.
The skirt was done using the black Citadel contrast paint, which I think over the grey gives a good ‘rubberised’ look. In fact I’d go as far as saying the slightly visible layer lines actually helped in achieving this effect.
Following this I chose various points of interest to block out in a limted colour palette of yellow, blue and red (all Citadel base paints). To be true to the toys I probably should have continued the block colouring on the weapons and props, but I went for a more ‘realistic’ dark metallic colour for these (Foundry Blackened Barrel C). The windows were done using the Space Wolves grey Citadel contrast paint.
Next up, markings. Luckily the original stickers for many of the original toys are still available. A quick visit to Vintage Star Wars Collectibles set me up with a reproduction sticker sheet for the Q Force Swordfish. I applied these stickers direct to the model and sealed them using a gloss varnish.
Finally the model was finished off with a few basic highlights and a matt top coat. I had considered a final weathering step, however something about the finish with the primary colours and the similarity to the toy range stayed my hand.
All in all I am pretty pleased with the outcome. Since I completed this project I have further refined some of my 3D printer settings, which should reduce damage when removing supports and ease the clean up prior to printing should I attempt a similar model in future.
Final touches will be to add some Q Force personel. I have some Crooked Dice frogmen that will fit the bill well. In the meantime I have to stick with ferrying the SAS boys around…
On Sunday 17th November 2019 I had the pleasure alongside the rest of the Dales Wargames Club of hosting our latest 7TV event.
Titled the 7TV Open University, this event was a follow up to the games day we held earlier in the year and was again held at the Whitworth Centre in Darley Dale near Matlock in Derbyshire. The focus was once more on narrative play rather than competition, with an additional aim of getting new players into the game.
I wanted to make the event beginner friendly in order to spread the joy of 7TV as far and wide as possible. For the first event earlier in the year we really didn’t have any overarching theme and I was keen to address this for our second outing. Therefore I came up with a theme of the ‘7TV Open University’ which would encompass both the scenarios we’d play through on the day in addition to the focus on new players.
To get new players into the action as quickly and easily as possible I created a number of pre-built casts for new players to pick from. Cast size was set at 40 ratings for the event and for what I referred to as the ‘pick and play’ casts on the day I stuck to profiles from the core 7TV 2nd Edition ‘Inch High Spy Fi’ set. These also happen to be the same profiles that can be obtained from Crooked Dice as a free download and are also available within the casting agency application. This was a concious decision to demonstrate to new players how much fun can be had ‘out of the box’ with 7TV.
Eight ‘pick and play’ casts were created and I’ll be writing about each of these in future articles. Basically it was a case of matching what painted miniatures I had in my collection against the core profiles and using a bit of imagination. And it was a lot of fun. Heres the list of casts:
Department XS (‘Excess’)
The Guru and the Spacemen
Knight Industries 3000
The Tuetonic Order of Luna
United Nations Alien Countermeasures Force
The Cult of Fu Manchu
After a sudden surge of interest in the few days leading up to the event, I had my fingers crossed that I had casts for budding new players. That also meant we had to get at least seven tables setup on the day. I was able to dip into the clubs scenery collection as well as my own and we ended up with an eclectic mix of setups including a V2 launch site, a woodland area with mysterious stone circle, a dockside loading area, a cobbled townscape and a couple of post apocalypse wastelands.
A couple of attendees also brought along tables, including Simon Quinton and his excellent PA diner and highway. Thankfully as well, there were enough sets of cards and templates and tokens to go around.
So, what about the scenarios (or more correctly in 7TV parlance, the episodes)? To tie in with the university theme I came up with a narrative that had the studio obtaining a government grant for educational programming. This was then immediately diverted into their adventure series and as bonuses for their top stars with the producers then having to work the system to avoid getting closed down by the government regulators.
Using the basic scenarios from the 7TV Spy-fi set I added some extra narrative tweaks. This introduced events that included shoehorning famous scientists into the episode (guest starring as themselves) or potentially having to deliver public services messages at the expense of action sequences.
In future articles I’ll go into a bit more detail around how the episodes were setup and how they worked, as well as making them available for others who might want to try them out.
While not a tournament in any way, the kind offer of prizes from Karl at Crooked Dice and Wayne at Wargames Illustrated meant that we did need to find a couple of ways of measuring some degree of success on the day. In addition to the usual ‘most sporting player’ (aka ‘best director’), we also had on offer a prize for most victory points accumalted and a wooden spoon for biggest margin of defeat.
I was busy moving between tables and didn’t get to see much of the action over and above helping out with rules and scenario queries (and taking lots of photos). However a few of the attendees have kindly written up reports of the action on the day and you can find these here:
The day itself went really well. It was extremely tiring but very satisfying experience and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who turned up and especially the veterans who helped guide the new players through their first games. All in all there were a lot laughs had, which is really what it is all about isn’t it?
We are going to do it all again in 2020 with a 7TV Apocalypse day scheduled for Sunday 5th April with the working title of ‘White Line Nightmares!”. In the meantime the club have agreed to run a couple of participation games at upcoming shows (more on that soon), but I’m also really looking forward to actually getting a game or two in myself. First up in January is another event at Board in Brum in Walsall which promises to be great, with the now annual Wargames Illustrated event scheduled for the summer.
Having spent my holiday hobby time back in the summer building the kit (which can be broken down into various sections and therefore configured in a number of ways), I recently went back and finished the painting. It’s worth noting that the model could double as many different sorts of sub on the table top from World War 2 U boats to more modern types. One of the sections contains a set of missle tubes (which you would probably drop if using this for WW2), likewise the section which mounts a deck gun is probably specific to an earlier era boat.
I wanted to maintain the generic nature and usability of the model across different time periods and games in the way I painted it too. A black undercoat was applied using matt black primer from a spray can, followed by a dark grey spray and this was then sealed using a top coat spray (the currently incredibly hard to find in the UK Testors Dullcote).
Next up were decals. Again I wanted to keep it generic, but the more I looked at the painted model the more I felt it deserved some extra treatment with the decals in order to break up the monotony of black. I’ve got lots of decal sheets left over from my long since departed Dust Tactics collection, many of which were generic warning signs and symbols, which would do nicely to a certain degree. However I then came across a set of Soviet decals for Dust with some nice big red stars that would really stand out. These were applied over a gloss varnish and then sealed again with the same before another dullcote layer.
The final step was to apply some airbrush highlighting using some lighter grey from the Vallejo Air range. (I’ve purposely left the deck gun off at the moment as I wasn’t happy with the build, I’m planning on maybe looking to 3D printing for a replacement.)
At some point in the future I will go back and add some weathering, but at present I’m happy to get this to the table.
I’m delighted to announce after the success of our first event, Dales Wargames are holding a follow up 7TV games day on Sunday 17th November. We still have plenty of spaces left, so if anyone is reading this and is interested please see the full details here.
Three full games at 40 ratings, any casts from across any 7TV sets (although for balance, no Apocalypse vehicles), custom casts welcome.
We are keen to spread the 7TV love, so if you’ve never played before or are just curious there will be pre-built casts available to borrow on the day and support available to learn the game. It is 7TV University after all. (Kipper ties are mandatory!)
Cost is £7.50, paid either in advance or on the day (just let us know you are coming). It’s also a normal meeting date for the Dales Wargames club, so if for some (crazy) reason you don’t want to play 7TV ago come along anyway, there’s bound to be something of interest (including cake).
So in amongst all the other stuff I have going on (including a new resin 3D printer, more on which another time), I am still working my way through the big pile of lead from the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter.
This time up its the turn of the Creepers! These miniatures were multi-part so required a bit of superglue magic (i.e. activator) to get built. They are very much an ode to those killer plants from an early eighties BBC TV adaption of a classic sci fi novel. They are ‘triffic’ sculpts.
Having had a break from the airbrush for a few months (I tend to do all my spraying with rattle cans, especially basecoating outside while the weather is good), I decided to crack it out again for these guys. Over a white undercoat, building up a couple of successively lighter layers of green worked really well. I supplemented this with the use of yellow washes/glazes and a purple contrast paint to make it all look suitably organic and plant-like.
I went to town on the basing with these, swapping out to some of the (now standard for Space Marines anyway) 32mm round bases from Games Workshop. I added in various tufts, flock and static grass to tie in with the theme.
I also found the time to complete another of the cultists from the set, a rather lost looking survivor and am continuing to work on the motorbike gang.