7TV Pulp Weird War Game

On Saturday March 14th I will be running a participation game of 7TV Pulp at Hammerhead.  Karl from Crooked Dice kindly offered me some space on his stand to run a game and I have been preparing for this for a few weeks now.

Originally I was going to run a game based around the original core set of 7TV and make it a ‘spy-fi’ adventure.  I had a hankering to build a secret base and although I started the project (and will finish it at some point), I soon switched my focus to doing something based on the lastest Pulp setting and rules.

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Secret base project – currently on hold

Part of this change of plan was the amount of time I had available to prepare.  The day job is kind of hectic at the moment, and so I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew with respect to the table build.  Also I’m aware that there are a few Pulp releases up coming and I wanted to help Karl promote the most up-to-date range.

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Today’s episode filmed on location

To that end I looked at re-purposing the V2/flying saucer table I had taken to both the last Wargames Illustrated 7TV day and the recent event at Board in Brum.  Other than some hybrid games using casts and cards from across the 7TV sets I had not played a game solely using the Pulp rules and was keen to try out some of the new profiles and features (such as peril cards).

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My idea was to base the game on one of the classic cinema pulp serials of the 1930s, but move it forward a decade and give it a bit of a Weird War spin.  I’d picked up a nice lot of miniatures from Pulp Figures (via North Star Military Figures) over Christmas and also wanted to incorporate the excellent Danger 5 lizard men from Crooked Dice themselves.

So a couple of Sundays ago I went through a test game at our monthly Dales Wargames meeting.  Playing against my friend Darren and his son, I wanted to use to game to get a handle on some of the new rules introduced in Pulp, check out the use of peril cards to enhance the episodes and check the table layout and casting.

Having never run a game at a show before I wanted to also make sure that I made setup and play as straightforward as possible for new players and to enable folk to easily drop in and out of play.  I decided to this end to preset the placement of objectives and choose the defenders based on the ‘plot of the episode I was going to film’.

To that end, my bad guys (Stahl Mask and his evil sect of third reich fanatics) would be the defenders and my heroic adventuring archeologist and his team of allied misfits would be the attackers.  I preset also the starting positions of the the majority of the figures, only allowing the players to place their spy models.

We played a straight ‘Battle’ episode from the Producers Guide but with the addition of the macguffin using one of the new Pulp macguffin cards.  In this case, ‘The Ark of the Covenant’.  We also used a peril card to enable two pieces of scenery to be secretly (by the defender) be marked as booby trapped.

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The casts were set at 40 points each, but for narrative purposes I slightly bent the rules on one third extras for the heroes (they were under by a couple of ratings points).  I hadn’t yet finished painting the majority of the extras for Stahl Mask’s lot, so ended up proxying in some ‘Moon Nazis’ in place of Jet Troopers and Lizard Men.

On the heroes side I used a mix of models, including some of the Crooked Dice releases for Pulp, as well as a really old Peter Cushing Dr.Who as my eccentric inventor (a Harlequin miniatures release from back in the day).  In addition I added in a selection of other figures from Crooked Dice (including Danger 5) as well as some Artizan Designs and Statuesque miniatures.  These covered most of the main archetypes I wanted to use from the Pulp profiles, including my spies, a Gadgeteer, a Soldier of Fortune and others.

The main man, my archeologist, was from the Cthulhu Death May Die board game by CMON.  There are some excellent figures in here that fit the period, they are slightly larger than standard 28mm scale, but don’t look too out of place.

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Doctor Harrison Jones

Talking of larger figures, on the bad guys side I proxied in a few figures including an SA officer from the Mantic Hellboy game.  Now this fella was a bit too big – although I guess he could fit in in terms of being some sort of ‘super soldier’.

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For those of you who are interested here is the make up of the casts in terms of the 7TV Pulp cards used:

The Good Guys:

  • Intrepid Adventurer (Star, 10 ratings)
  • Eccentric Inventor (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Rugged Veteran (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Gadgeteer (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Spy (1) (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • Spy (2) (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • Soldier of Fortune (Extra, 4 ratings)
  • 40 ratings total, 6 gadgets, 7 plot points per turn (full cast), 7 figures

The Bad Guys:

  • Heartless Warmonger (Star, 10 ratings)
  • Hulking Henchman (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Ruthless Leuitenant (Co-star, 6 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper Commander (Extra, 3 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper Sergeant (Extra, 2 ratings)
  • Shocktrooper x 3 (Extras, 6 ratings)
  • Mechanical Man (Extra, 5 ratings)
  • Scientist (Extra, 2 ratings)
  • 40 ratings total, 3 gadgets, 8 plot points per turn (full cast), 10 figures

The game itself flowed well, back and forth, with some epically bad dice rolling on both sides.  The basic conceit of the episode was that as the third reich was falling and the red army closely in, our villain Stahl Mask is making a last ditch effort to escape with his collected treasures and weird technologies in his protoype flying saucer.  Would he escape to the safety of the secret Antarctic base and then perhaps on to Luna, or would Professor Harrison Jones and his gang finally catch up with him put him to justice and save the sacred artefact?

We ended up making into the finale act of the episode with neither cast being axed, although Stahl Mask was mightly bruised and was lucky he had his mask as there was a bit of an ‘open the ark face melting incident’.

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A stand in Ark of the Covenant – this didn’t end well for Stahl Mask

All in all I think the game is setup well for the upcoming shows.  In addition to Hammerhead I’ll also be taking the game to Chillcon in Sheffield at the end of the month.

It was also good to get a proper game of 7TV Pulp in for the first time too.  Although not a big fan of the newly introduced ‘one melee action’ per activation rule, I can see why this has been done as some of the new card special effects and star qualities key off this.  Another comment was the brutality of the cliffhanger deck.  These seemed to be weighted more towards bad stuff happening that the original 7TV countdown card deck, although that could of course been down the deck of cards we dealt on the day.

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I also really liked the macguffin and peril cards.  For the purposes of the show games I will probably only use the former, so there is not too much to remember, especially for new players.

Since the game at Dales I have managed to borrow some of the clubs scenery to flesh out the board and have also nearly finished painting some additional miniatures which will enable me to both tweak the casts slightly and just give me some more options……

 

Empire of Men – To catch a Stahlratte!

I recently blogged about building the epic Stahlratte, a sci-fi style heavy tank in the style of the legendary Maus produced by Archon Studio as part of their Empire of Men Kickstarter.

I’d got to the point of having assembled the resin beast and through copies use of greenstuff and a bit of boiling water got the build to the point at which I was ready to get some paint down.

First off, I’d made a decision to go ‘German Weird World War’ rather than ‘Grimdark Future’ in terms of theme. However rather than go with the classic late war yellow / camo look of the immediate post war timelines of things like Dust and Konflikt 47, I decided to go with a more science fiction / modern camo look. Originally I was planning on using some splinter style camo templates from Anarchy Models, but upon inspection these looked a bit too small. In the end I decided on a light grey/dark grey angular camo pattern using masking tape to mark the pattern out. Using a Panzer Grey spray from Plastic Soldier Company over a white undercoat, the masking was applied and a light grey then applied (Humbrol).

Once dry I tackled the tracks, using a Reaper Miniatures Charred Brown mixed with a few drops of Valejo Glaze Medium to help thin.  This was then followed with a silver drybrush using Army Painter Plate Mail.

I decided to tackle decals next (prior to weathering). Decals were sourced from my decals spares box. Most of these were Dust Tactics Axis decals.

Weathering was achieved by applying an all over brush on of Army Painter Quickshade Dark. Once dry chipping was applied using a bit of old sponge, first using a dark brown and then a silver, concentrating on the edges and areas that would be subject to the most wear. Finally (and as an experiment) I applied a bit of Modelmates engine oil around some of the grills and as vertical streaks on the side panels.  Final steps were to dull down the Quickshade using an all over spray of Testors Dullcote.

All in all I pretty pleased with the outcome. I haven’t really got a game lined up for this, but I imagine this might be appearing in a ‘moon Nazis’ scenario in 7TV as a centrepiece or objective.

I’ve still got a couple more vehicles to finish off from the Kickstarter and the troops I’ve got are ear marked for Imperial Guard proxies for Kill Team (not a game I have tried yet, but something my gaming group is starting to get into).

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!