Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Get Sludged, and an Artillery Emplacement

Like many wargamers, I have been sucked in by Sludge - or more accurately, FG had been sucked in, and had pulled me down as well.

It's not a very large investment for me figures-wise, as I already own a large WOTR force, many of which can be used in the game "as is"; I simply needed to paint 27 musket-armed figures. The base you see above are made using the Perry WOTR infantry bodies and heads, with their ACW arms. The line infantry in Sludge is supposed to be based three to a 50mm round base, but I decided to stick to a square basing as the rest of my WOTR army are on square basing. I am trying a new system of painting them, which is faster than my usual way, but gives a rather grimy appearance, which is acceptable in Sludge aesthetics.

What I was more excited about though was making terrain for the project, specifically gabion defences. I bought three packs of the Renedra gabions for this project, only to realise that they are much bigger than I imagined. I made seven redoubt sections, and one gun emplacement, which is shown here with the artillery and crew from my WOTR collection.

The design is inspired by this piece, although I have orientated the planks perpendicularly because it seemed to make more sense.

The base is made with PVC foam board. The wooden sections are balsa wood stained with a wood stain. The texturing is Modge Podge Matte with sand and gravel over them. The rocks on the sides are cork pieces.

I am quite happy with how the piece turned out. I think drybrushing with light grey is the secret here.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #5

Captain's Log - T046

The parade the Alikaia held in our honour was interrupted by a sudden and unprovoked attacked, which we subsequently learned was launched by the Kadiaz faction. The main party were able to make our way to the airport and take the shuttles back to our ship - we were not the primary targets for the Kadiaz faction; the admin party comprising of Mr Goldfone, Dr Balikaikam, Corpsman Wootue, Trooper Blick and Mr Ajax were unable to make it to the airport in their vehicle, and were forced to abandon it and their communications equipment and proceed on foot. During they journey they were attacked by soldiers from the Kadiaz faction, but they were able to overcome the opposition and reach the last shuttle off the surface.

Once back onboard we were able to determine that the attack on the city had arrived on three main prongs, and seemed to be aimed at capturing the leaders of the various cities. Simultaneously, mobile columns were launched from various locations from within the Kadiaz territories, heading for the other free cities.

Deepnight Revelation was contacted by the various factions on the planet, with the Kadiaz faction warning us against interfering, while the other factions begged us to help them fend off the attack. After a conference with the Mission Command team, we made the difficult decision to not intervene in the conflict, and left orbit.

While I understand the decision was made in the best interest of the mission, we were unable to resupply our ship as we had planned, and the crew are no doubt disappointed by the turn of events. I can only hope that our next contact with a civilisation in the galaxy will turn out better.

Captain's Log - T053

Upon arrival at the system Astrography had named Entrata, sensors detected a debris field near the gas giant we had planned to conduct refuelling operations.

We were able to determine that the debris was the wreckage of a starship of approximately 15,000 tons in displacement. The ship was shaped like a round hut. A large breach was noted on the side hull, and the "bottom" of the ship, where the drive section would have been, had been completely sheared off. Adrift in the space around the ship were humanoid bodies, some in vac-suits, some not.

An away team was sent to investigate the wreckage, and found that the bodies belonged to a single species of humanoid with facial features resembling a possum. Some had died from exposure, no doubt ejected from the ship when the breach was made in the hull, and others were killed by fusiform missiles, which Dr Balilaika was later able to determine to be organic in nature; he was unable to detect any form of known toxin or chemicals which might indicate some sort of propellant on them.

Within the ship the team found signs of battle, with impact marks on the bulkheads made by the energy weapons used by the crew. There were no signs of the body of the attackers who had used the missiles.

The breach in the hull appeared to have been made by physical impact, and no energy residue or burn marks were detected. The same was also found to be the case for the lower section of the ship - it appeared that the whole drive section had been torn off by brute force.

As for the nature of the vessel, the crew found that it appeared to be a commercial vessel, carrying chiefly consumer electronics such as music players, televisions, cameras, washing machines, cooking appliances, as well as small generators meant to power them. At the main deck of the ship were what were unmistakably store fronts and workshops or service centres.

The away team was able to retrieve the computer from the ship's bridge, but despite our attempts to access it, the display showed the same script, which we interpreted to be an error message.

I have ordered the crew to salvage some of the electronics for research purposes, and to catalogue the dead, so that we might pass the information on to their people when we encounter this species in the future.

Captain's Log - T056

The away teams sent to Entrata-3 had returned to report that the world is inhabited by a species of humanoid who appear to have a Bronze Age level of civilisation. They look like humans, but are shorter in stature. There is no evidence that the species from the commercial vessel we found had made contact with the inhabitants.

They practised farming and animal husbandry, and the possibility of obtaining supplies from them was discussed, but rejected by the Mission Command team.

While we do still have sufficient supplies, most of the crew had not left the ship for a month, and the events of the past couple of weeks have not helped morale.

Captain's Log - T066

Engineering has informed me that the damage Deepnight had sustained from our exposure to the gas plume at proto-gas giant QQ-784 had damaged the Jump drive, which reduced our effective speed by around 50%.

Effecting repair will require access to a space dock, or a planetoid without an atmosphere, but in the latter instance it will take considerable time to set up equipment and gather the resources required.

The Mission Command team was able to come up with the idea of scanning for transmissions based on the frequencies used by the commercial vessel we came across, and we were able to locate a source in a nearby system.

We had not had any luck with accessing the computer we recovered from their bridge, but attempts to access the personal devices on the dead crew were more successful, and Mr Ajax was able to learn the phonology of their script based on the displays on their music players and the lyrics of the songs, and infer a few words of their language based on the songs. From the photos and translation programmes he found in the devices it appears that the species had contact with several other species - perhaps they are interstellar traders.

I have ordered a course to be set for the source of the transmission - hopefully we will be able to find what we need.

Prepping and Running the Game

The first part of the report was actually played during our previous session, before the lockdown. I had decided to report it in this post for continuity, as I had expected the players to intervene in the Alikaia civil war on the side of the free cities. Unfortunately for me (and the Alikaia) they decided that they could not risk the losses they might suffer from intervening. While I agree with them, it was still a little disappointing. As you can see from the photo, I had in fact purchased 2D flats miniatures to represent the Alikaia - they did not arrive in time for the combat we played last session, and I posed them for this report. Perhaps I will recycle them as another alien species later in the campaign.

The second encounter was a minor plot point to foreshadow an arc later in the campaign, but it turned out to be rather interesting. The original wreck was supposed to be a battlecruiser from a civilisation in the module which I decided to leave out. In its place I substituted a commercial vessel of a species which I plan to feature quite a bit for the next few sessions. Exploring the vessel, wondering about the identity of the attackers, as well as determining the nature of the vessel took a large part of the session. What was fun was how the players and I tried to figure out what they can learn about the species from their commercial electronics - in a way it is asking: if an alien found our smartphone, what will they learn about us?

We decided that it was able to reconstruct the script and the phonology from the devices, without necessarily understanding what a particular word meant. It was also possible to determine words like "hello", "thank you", and "goodbye" from watching videos of people interacting.

The best moment came when they made radio contact with the species towards the end of the session (which I will report on in the next post) and were trying to establish a visual with them: we realised that they could transmit and receive visuals by using the data format of camcorders and television sets!

The crippling of Deepnight Revelation by fiat and forcing it to dock sets up the next arc of the campaign, where the crew will be limited to scoutship-based missions which they will perform for the aliens to pay for the repair of their ship. The missions are more traditional in format, which hopefully mean they will be easier to prep for and run.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Arab Revolt in 10mm

I am not exaggerating when I say that this project is almost 30 years in the making. I have wanted to wargame the Arab Revolt since reading an article in issue #112 of Miniature Wargames magazine in 1992, but like the actual conflict itself, it was a "sideshow of a sideshow", and I never really got down to brass tacks until the pandemic hit last year.

I bought a few pdf rule sets, and sent off an order of Pendraken's 10mm figures, and had them delivered to a painting service to be painted. Of course afterwards I decided that I needed some German Asian Corps figures, and had to order more figures...

I also bought the little train model off ebay, which while not the same model as those that ran on the Hejaz railway, looked enough like the one in the movie to my untrained, non-train-watcher eyes.

With David unable to join us for a Blood Bowl game, I asked Adrian and FG to join me in our first Arab Revolt Game.

I used the Contemptible Little Armies rules (more on the topic of rules later) and let Adrian and FG command the "Arab" side: Adrian chose the Arab Irregular army, while FG commanded the Sharifian Arab Regulars and a British Rolls-Royce armoured car.

The scenario was of course a train ambush, with the Arabs having to loot the train and run off before the Turkish reinforcements arrive.

Sharifian infantry and the Rolls-Royce armoured car

I played the Ottoman army, and despite having slightly more points than the Arabs I rolled so poorly that the game went pretty one-sided. The Irregular Cavalry managed to close in on the defenders with minimal casualties, while the Arab machinegun managed to silence their Ottoman counterpart, before proceeding to decimate a unit of Ottoman infantry sent to secure the train.

Meanwhile, the Sharifian infantry and another unit of Ottoman infantry engaged in a costly firefight in front of the railway station.

The photo above shows a cardboard building I made based on photos of a Hejaz railway station. The original was of red brick construction, but I settled for a whitewashed appearance as it was easier and fit better with the white adobe buildings I had in my collection. In the background is a dice tray I made from a Turkish Delight box which I bought in Istanbul many years ago.

Now a word on rules.

One of the first sets of rules I looked at was of course Too Fat Lardies' "If the Lord Spares Us", which was written for the specific period, theatre, and indeed scale. However, I find the rules too complicated for me; had this been a main period for me and my group, it might have justified the investment in time and effort to master the rules, but for what will likely be an occasional game, I needed something simpler.

I looked at Trench Hammer, which I like, but the rules fit a more tactical type of game - in any case, I am reserving the rules for my 28mm sci-fi figures.

I also got a copy of Blood and Valor, which looks like a fun set of rules with some interesting mechanics. I also had lists for armies in this theatre, but like Trench Hammer, it is meant for a more tactical kind of game.

There are many other sets of rules out there, but many are pitched at a higher scale/level than what I was looking at, and most are focused on the European theatres.

Then, a few days before our game, I came across some recommendations for Contemptible Little Armies. The reviews suggested that it was an odd beast that played like a skirmish game but felt like it was at a higher level as it involved vehicles, aircraft, and artillery. While that might have turned some wargamers off, it sounded exactly like what I wanted. I got a copy, and sure enough all the elements I was looking for were inside, and the rules were quick to learn and remember.

The rules were written for individually based 28mm figures, but we used my 10mm figures with no change in measurements - I think it looked better too. We managed to try out the rules for armoured car this game, and in the future I hope to bring on aircraft and artillery too.

Monday, August 09, 2021

Shieldwolf Miniature Imperium Immortalis Cavalry

I finally got around to assembling and painting the first of the figures I received from the kickstarter several months ago. These are lancers riding on the same kind of mounts that the Death Korps of Krieg cavalry use, but they have the pickelhaube instead of the Death Korps style helmet.

They are beautiful figures, with amazing animation on the mounts, but they were difficult to assemble. Instead of the usual configuration of a head-and-neck and two halves of the torso, all the mounts came with the head-and-neck, the torso with 2 or 3 limbs, plus at least one limb as a separate piece, and a few had legs that had to be joined at the knee. Being thin and made of resin instead of plastic, this made gluing the parts together difficult.

There was some gap-filling to be done on the horses, as well as the joint between the riders' torsos and their waists, which are sculpted onto the mounts. As I said they are beautiful, but I do wish they were easier to assemble.

The animation on these models can be better appreciated in the side view.

They will be facing the British-inspired cavalry from Mad Robot Miniatures in a future game, once I manage to get the heavy weapon teams painted.

Monday, August 02, 2021

Low-Tech Aliens

Here are some miniatures that I painted for our Deepnight Revelation campaign; they will be used as one of the several species of aliens the crew will come into contact with during their journey. In this case, they are a race of aliens with a pre-Columbian American level of material technology.

Since many of the alien races in the campaign were created for just the campaign, it was not possible to find ready-to-use figures. I did a bit of googling, and decided that the Frostgrave Ghost Archipelago Tribals figures and the Tau heads from Zealot Miniatures gave a good likeness of the aliens as represented in the illustrations in the module.

Ideally I would have liked to make them "civilian" figures, holding tools instead of weapons, but since the set was made for wargaming, I had to make do. The staff in the "shaman's" hand came from a Frostgrave wizards sprue, while the left arm, in what I call the "Professor X pose" was supposed to be an archer's arm, I think.

These figures will probably be used for only one or two sessions of our RPG, but I imagine they can be used for other games to substitute for lizardfolk or some sort of frog-people in any of the classic TSR D&D modules.