Monday, September 27, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #7

Captain’s Log – T103

Fabrication of the necessary parts for the repair of the drive have begun. As the Mission Command team have decided against a complete shut-down of the ship, repairs will take a minimum of three weeks.

Syndic Feisler continues to refuse our request for shore leave on the Dwadaella homeworld, on the account that the permission was not the Haix’s to grant. While I agree with Mr Johnson that that also means permission is not theirs to deny, it would not be diplomatic to press the issue.

Syndic Feisler did offer an alternative: a forest moon orbiting the local gas giant called Wildwood, where the Haix maintain a logging camp and a furniture factory. I have asked Mr Stamper to lead a team to investigate the moon to see if it will be suitable.

Captain’s Log – T108

Mr Stamper’s team has returned to Tradeport, but sadly, with one crew fewer. Trooper Velok had died in the line of duty while on Wildwood. His death will no doubt cause a further deterioration in the morale of the crew.

According to Mr Stamper’s report, the team arrived at Entolere, the Haix base on Wildwood, to learn that contact with the logging camp has been lost three weeks prior. The loggers have been reporting sightings of unfamiliar creatures in the woods for several months by then, and then three months before the team’s arrival loggers started disappearing one by one. Most of the loggers then returned to Entolere, but some 20 remained by the time contact was lost.

A team of armed men were sent to investigate, traveling by the railway that led to the camp, but two miles away from the camp they found the tracks blocked by fallen trees, and when the men dismounted to clear the trees they were attacked by “moving trees”. The apprentice engineer was the only survivor of the attack.

The terrain being unsuitable for the landing of the scoutship, Mr Stamper secured the use of the train and the services of the apprentice engineer Stevin. The team traveled as far as the location of the fallen trees, where they discovered that the trees had been deliberately uprooted and used to block the tracks. It being impractical to remove the fallen trees, the team decided to carry on on foot, while Mr Stamper, unable to cross the rough terrain due to his old leg injury, returned to Entolere on the train.

The team arrived at the logging camp to find it in disarray. The hab-blocks had been torn into, and there were blood splatter and blaster marks which suggested that there was a skirmish, but there were no bodies found. A wide trail led from the campsite to the east, while drag marks on the trail suggested that the bodies of the loggers and any survivors had been taken away by the attackers.

The team followed the trail, and after a hour’s travel they lost communications link with Mr Stamper, likely on account of the thick forest canopy. Corpsman Wootue reported a sense of unease from the way the leaves of the plants “looked wrong”. Shortly afterwards the team was attacked by spines ejected from what appeared to be seed pods that grew on certain vines that grew on the trees. Several of the team members were wounded, and Trooper Velok lost his life during this attack, depsite Corpsman Wootue’s efforts to revive him. On Sergeant Ahab’s recommendation, his body was cremated using the

flamethrower the team carried, in accordance to Rakashan customs. Examination of the spines showed that they resembled those found on the bodies of the Haix which we found in the wrecked ship earlier.

Continue on the trail, the team arrived at a large clearing covered by ferns. In the middle of the clearing was a large mount, some 100 yards across and 30 yards high. At the top of the mound was a clump of vegetation, and at its base was what appeared to be a cave opening, and the trail led to that opening.

As the team started to cross the clearing towards the mound, humanoid forms rose from the ground and began to attack them by shooting spines at them from their appendages. At the same time, screams could be heard issuing from the cave opening.

The team fought their way towards the cave, but in the chaos of battle Stevin and Corpsman Wootue became separated from the rest of the team, and fell back into the woods – they would be recovered the next day at the railway.

The team were able to neutralise many of the creatures with blaster fire and flamethrower, but more kept rising from the vegetation. Sergeant Ahab led the team into the cave. Inside, they learned that the “cave” appeared to be organic in nature, with its interior separated into many corridors and chambers by wooden walls. Following the screams, the team came into a larger chamber, where there were confronted by another one of the creatures, this one larger than the rest. The team destroyed this larger creature by surrounding it and attacking it with the flamethrower and grenades. In the chambers beyond, they found some of the loggers from the camp – it seemed that when the team arrived, the creatures began killing the loggers they had held prisoners. Several of the loggers had been killed in the initial attack on their camp, while others had been taken by the creatures and killed in a gruesome fashion, in what the survivors described as “dissection”.

Unable to exit the cave via the opening due to the large number of creatures on the outside, the team began to explore the “cave”. In one end of the complex, they found Jump and manoeuvre Drives of an unknown origin, seemingly integrated into the material of the cave. The team surmised that the “cave” was in fact some form of a ship with both organic and mechanical components.

Exploring further, they came into a large domed chamber which they believed was the middle of the mound. Petty Officer Jet Black had the idea that the vines and creatures that attacked them and the loggers were some form of alien plant life, which were controlled by some form of plant “super-mind” which was represented by the clump of vines which was atop the mound. Based on this theory, the team blew out the top of the dome with grenades, which collapsed and caused the vines to fall to the ground below.

Examining the vines, they found a globular structure, pale-yellow in colour, which was integrated into the root system of the vines. The team severed the globe from the vines, and set the vines alight. The hole in the dome also allowed Mr Goldfone to re-establish communications with Mr Stamper, who was able to evacuated the team via winching. The team then destroyed the mound and the creatures surrounding it with an improvised air-fuel explosive.

The globe is currently being studied by the Science department, but it is clear that Wildwood is not a suitable venue for our shore leave. The globe and the alien plant life have a connection with the wrecked Haix ship which we found; hopefully our analysis of the globe will give us more information on whatever attacked the ship, which will give us some leverage in our further negotiations with the Haix.

Prepping and Running the Game

This scenario was runned pretty much 'as is', except that I moved Wildwood from a planet in another system to a moon in the local system.

The frequent lockdowns had disrupted our gaming schedule, and also dulled my GMing instincts. I tried to compensate by putting more prep time into this session, but I still missed out a couple of things I had planned to incorporate into the session to make it more interesting.

We are in another lockdown again, so there will be no RPG for four weeks. This will give me more time to work on wargaming, so look out for more posts in the future.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Scratch-built Machine Gun Emplacement

While I already have several sci-fi/post-apocalyptic rubble-barricades in my collection, all the sections are too high compared to the height of the heavy machine guns I have painted, so I decided to scratch-build a machine gun emplacement.

For the base I used 1mm PVC foam board. I cut our a C-shaped section sized to the bases of the machine gun teams. For the main component of the barricade I used cork sheets. I lay down a first layer using hot glue, and then glued some bits from various plastic kits I have left over to represent the debris the soldiers would have used to reinforce the strcture. I put the longer pieces in the centre of the piece, on the basis that this was probably the first part of the emplacement the soldier laid down, and they would want to define this part first.

I then built up the sides with more pieces of cork.

Then I covered the base with my usual mix of sand and gravel.

To seal everything in place, and more importantly to give a non-porous surface to the cork pieces, I covered everything with Modge Podge.

Once the Modge Podge has dried completely, it was a simple matter of painting the whole thing black, then grey, and then picking out the various debris items and painting them in their colours. Next, I did some rust effect and weathering on the debris. I then applied a black wash, followed by a brown wash, before finally applying some weathering powder.

I think I managed to match the colour and weathering to the pieces I bought off ebay.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Paper Medieval Tent from Codex Manesse

One of the fun bits about Never Mind the Billhook is this rule about Morale tokens: each army has a number of Morale tokens, and every time you suffer a reversal you have to surrender one of them - when you run out of tokens to surrender, you lose the battle. To keep your opponent from knowing how many tokens you have remaining, the author recommends you hide them inside a miniature tent.

Now I have three 15mm DBX- style camps from the purchases I made on ebay, but these - as many 15mm tents made for wargaming are - are solid tents with no place to keep the tokens. I decided a quick way of making "hollow" medieval tents was with paper or cardstock terrain, and found this one on googling.

The template is in pdf, and comes in layers, so there are different patterns of the scallops, and you can choose to have the flaps up or down. The template seems to fit 28mm figures, but I scaled mine down by 50%, which works well for 15mm.

More importantly, at 50% the template fits just nice around these extra sturdy cardboard tubes which I have been saving up - gluing the template around a sturdy core makes things a lot easier, and also means you can just print on paper instead of cardstock. The template gives a slightly tapering tent, while the tube is straight; this isn't an issue in 15mm since it is easy to compensate by squishing the paper a little, but in 28mm you may want to find a suitable core first - like maybe a small yoghurt tub - and then scale the template to the exact size that will wrap nicely around your chosen core.

Anyway, it was a simple job of gluing the template onto the tube, then cutting the opening for the flaps.

For the roof I simply taped the edges together without bothering with the flaps.

You don't want to tape all the way to the edge, since the edge will need to be cut and folded down, as you will see later.

I chose a 60mm round MDF base as the base for the tent, and assembled the components with white glue.

I then snipped the edges of the roof and folded the tabs down, as you can see in the photo above.

Finally, I painted the base to match my battle mat.

This was a quick and easy project, and I am now thinking of ways to make functional terrain pieces for my other games.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Machination Studio Maxim Gun Galloper with Imperium Immortalis crew

I got the Machination Studio Maxim Gun Galloper a couple of years ago with the intent of using it for my Warzone figures. As I have already painted a Tehnolog T-Rex for the Imperial faction, I wanted to paint the Galloper for the Bauhaus faction.

The original model is 1/35 in scale, so I had to do some work on the 'cockpit'. I cut away the Maxim Gun mount, and added a platform made from Tehnolog bits, and added a ladder made from some plastic mesh I had.

The torso of the crew is from an Imperium Immortalis heavy weapon crew figure, but I decided to give it the head of a cavalry trooper on the account that the walker would probably be under the cavalry arm of the army rather than the artillery arm. The arms come from a trimmed down Mad Robot Miniature crew figure, and the weapon is the Grenade Launcher from Imperium Immortalis, which happens to fit right into the slot in the gun-shield.

I bought some Army Painter barbed wire from a store earlier this week, and so I decided to add some scenic element to the base and depict the walker stepping on and neutralising some wire obstacle.

The gun-shield has a large surface area, but thankfully there was already some texture on the piece. I did some chipping work on the gun-shield and other surfaces, but at this scale they are not really visible at tabletop distance and to my aging eyes.

I did heavier weathering on the muffler, and applied weathering powder to the 'hooves'.

The legs on the walker are not really square, as you can see from this rear view, but somehow the crew platform is level.

While I was assembling the model I wondered how the driver was supposed to see where is is going and what he was shooting at, and when I was painting the weapon I found the answer: he had some sort of a viewscreen which gave him readings taken from a camera/sensor on the front of the weapon, which you can see in the front view of the walker. I imagine the role of the walker as a trench-buster: the elevated position of the weapon allowed it to lob grenades into the trenches in a sort of semi-indirect fire.

This will likely be the last model I paint for the whole project; next up will be some wire entanglement sections.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Sludge Infantry Unit and Jaegers

I completed the last of the three units of Line Infantry for the Sludge project.

As with the other units, I added some scenic items on the base, in this case some fence sections I had in my bits box. I plan to use space on the command base for Stress tokens/die.

I also painted up the remaining figures as Jaegers. I'm not sure how important they are in the game, but it is good to have the option to field some skirmishers.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Never Mind the Billhooks Test Game

With no RPG this week, I decided to play a solo test game of Never Mind the Billhooks.

Now I have been interested in the Wars of the Roses for a long time - many years ago we played a 6-player campaign using Warmaster rules, and the campaign rules which we used were submitted to and published in Miniatures Wargame magazine.

Warmaster is a fun set of rules for quick play in a club setting, but I always felt that the armies were too generic and lacked period flavour. I have tried several other sets of rules over the years, including Flower of Chivalry, Blood Barons (first edition), and For Lord Tomorrow is a Busy Day, but none really hit the spot for me.

Then NMTBH dropped in the September 2020 issue of Wargames Illustrated magazine, and suddenly everybody was talking about it. I read a few reviews, and decided to get a hardcopy of the rules and the game cards.

So how do the rules play?

I enjoyed the Manoeuvre phase of the game, when the players would take turns moving units of their armies until one of the decided to shoot or move a unit into melee, when the game proper (with all the phases and activations) would begin. This reduced the amount of time taken before the two sides came to grips, and more importantly gave a sense of manoeuvring - I will really have to look at implementing this in my other games.

The gameplay itself is rather crunchy, requiring players to keep track of number of volleys shot by every archer units, as well as casualties (if using multi-based figures) and disorder and morale tokens. The use of buckets of dice for combat resolution and Special Events/chance cards means things can be unpredictable, but the latter also gave players more decision points and made for a gamey-er game.

Over all I enjoyed the flow of the game. Units deployed, manoeuvred into positions of advantage (or tried to), before the first shots are loosed, announcing the start of combat. Then players have to decide whether to stay at a distance and trade volleys, or brave the arrow storm and try to close for melee and decide things with cold steel... The plodding nature of the infantry means initial deployment is important. In my test game the Lancastrians masked their own gun, the result of which was it never got to fire throughout the game.

I played for about 6 turns before I had to take a break - these rules are a little too crunchy to be played solo. I am looking forward to playing against other players soon.

If you are thinking of getting these rules, you may want to note that a new edition is in the works, with a planned publication date of around Christmas this year.

Thursday, September 09, 2021

Deepnight Revelation #6

Captain's Log - T081

We arrived at the source of the radio signals we detected yesterday, and were able to ascertain that they originated from a space station in orbit of a habitable planet in the system. We were able to establish visual and audio contact with the operators of the station by reverse engineering of the electronic devices we recovered from the ship. The operators were of the same species as those in the wrecked ship we came across, and while surprised by our presence, were thankfully non-hostile. We were escorted to the station, which was not able to accommodate a ship of our size, but we were able to transfer to the station via shuttle, thanks to the attachments to our airlocks fabricated by Engineering based on the specifications of the wrecked ship.

While we are still unable to communicate verbally with these people, we were able to make them understand that we had come across one of the ships. On their part they expressed that they will provide us with food and water, in return for those wares which we have recovered from the wreck, as well as the location of the wreck. They also asked for a database of our language, which I have asked Commander Zruke to furnish them with. Hopefully this can be the beginning of a mutually-beneficial partnership.

Captain's Log - T084

It took only two days after receiving our database for our hosts the Haix to create a translator app for our language, and we were finally able to enter into negotiations for the repair of Deepnight Revelation. While their jump drive and weapons technology do not seem to be comparable to ours, their translation matrix certainly are superior.

It appears that the Haix are the only spacefaring civilisation in the sector, and they are engaged in trading with a dozen non-spacefaring civilisations. They have not encountered the Grens, nor do they know who or what might have attacked and destroyed the ship we encountered.

Engineering had provided a list of the items required for our repairs, and unfortunately the required rare earth minerals that the Haix were expecting from their mining colony had been delayed, and a delegation sent to investigate had likewise not returned as anticipated. Syndic Feisler had offered us a deal: if our crew will travel to Grit (the name of the planet - the Haix are rather literal in the way they name their colonies, we have learned) and learn and resolve the cause of the delay, they will provide the minerals to us at no costs. I have asked Mr Johnson to form a team and take the Scout 'Amelia Earhart' to perform this mission.

Separately, we tried to but were unsuccessful in asking the Haix for permission for our crew to go on shore leave on the planet below the station. So far we have learned that the indigenous people of the planet are called the Dwedalla, and that they supply the Haix with food and water, in return for electronic appliances for their city, as well as the electricity to run them. I will revisit this issue with Syndic Feisler again, as I believe our crew need the morale boost.

Captain's Log - T102

Mr Johnson and his team had debriefed me on his mission to the colony on Grit.

The mining colony, which is based on a mobile extraction platform the size of a small town (and given the imaginative name of Extraction One), is owned by the Haix Syndicate, but operated by staff gathered from the planets who the Haix trade with. The colony operates as a form of a co-operative, where the minerals mined are sold to the Haix, who pay the colonists in food, water, spare parts, as well as electronic credits.

Three months prior to our arrival, the antiquated ventilation system in one of the residential sections broke down during the night, the result of which was the toxic gases from the atmosphere outside the platform leaked into the residential section and killed more than a hundred colonists and their families in their sleep.

The colonists petitioned for the Haix to provide new ventilation systems, but were instead given new excavation equipment, on the basis that the increased rate of extraction of ores provided by these equipment will allow them to make more money, which could then be used to purchase the new ventilation system.

This mercenary response provoked an uprising in the colony, based chiefly among the miners, who went on strike and demanded better terms, or even outright independence from the Haix. This in turn resulted in the formation of a pro-status quo faction, comprised mainly of the administrative staff, who argued that the colony could not afford to antagonise the Haix.

The two factions came to blows, but Manager Corvalis was able to prevent escalation of violence by detaining the Haix representatives, as well as the leaders of both factions.

Mr Johnson was able to convince the leader of the miner faction that a strike was not in the best interest of the colonists, as they relied on the Haix more than the Haix did on them. At the same time, crewman Jet Black was able to convince the Haix on Grit to give up the back-up ventilation systems at their base to the colonists as a sign of good will.

The leader of the miners was prepared to ask his men to stand down, but an extremist faction led by an engineer who had lost his family in the ventilation system failure took control of the power system of the platform, and stranded the platform in soft ground.

While Manager Corvalis kept the extremists distracted with negotiation, Sergeant Ahab led the team on an assault of the drive section which the extremists were holed up. The team was able to neutralise the extremists with no fatalities, and restart the engine before the platform became permanently stuck.

Our crew was able to return with the required minerals, and fabrication of the replacement parts can finally begin. I am, however, disturbed by the practices of the Haix. Still, dealing with them is the only viable option we have at the current moment, and perhaps I can take comfort in the fact that the situation may have ended in a worse way had it not been our crew.

Prepping and Running the Game

This session was almost entirely role-playing, with a very short, rather easy combat encounter at the end. I think some of the players were bored, and I cannot blame them.

The first part of the session was a lot of miming - we became quite aware of how difficult it must be to communicate with a totally different species - small things like a nod or the raise of an eyebrow may not convey the same meaning in an alien culture, but it was still difficult to not do them even when I am supposedly playing an alien.

Things became easier once I introduced a translator, but what followed for most of the rest of the evening were a series of role-playing with NPCs who represented different factions. The players were able to take control of the situation, and resolve the conflict presented in this scenario with minimal violence. It felt like an episode of Star Trek: Voyager to me, which of course is more fun to watch than to play it.

This session was a more classic 'fetch quest' than the previous one; in the last session I gave the players a choice to whether they will engage with the hook I presented - they refused both hooks, and we ended up with a short session.

The next scenario will be a similar 'fetch quest', but hopefully there will be more combat for those players who prefer action to talk.

Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Sludge Infantry Units

I will probably take better photos of these two units when I complete painting the force, but I am excited to share some photos with my readers and the Sludge FB group.

These are pretty 'vanilla' as Sludge infantry go: Perry WOTR bodies with Perry ACW arms. They are painted in the same livery as my WOTR/Warhammer Empire force. You may notice that the command bases look different from the line bases - that's because I cheated and simply glued the command figures from my other units onto a 40mm square base.

The figures are not easy to put together, since I decided on painting the bodies separately from the arms. They paintjob is sloppy, but fortunately the Sludge aesthetics is rather forgiving.

The project does leave me with lots of ACW figures without arms, and already I am thinking of an ACW-themed sci-fi force...

Saturday, September 04, 2021

Trench Hammer Game

After more than four years from the painting of the first figures in the Warzone box set I bought, we finally played a full game with them. To be more specific and precise, we played two games of Trench Hammer, once with Adrian playing the role of the attacker, and once with me playing the attacker, against the defenders played by FG.

I gave the defenders two regular squads, a HMG, and the choice of a specialist squad. For the attacker, I gave them two regular squads, two LMG squads, one specialist squad, and one support option.

Adrian chose an Assault squad and a Mortar for his options. He pushed his squads forward in a headlong rush towards FGs' defensive positions. Unfortunately, he rolled poorly on his activation rolls and his movement, the result of which was his squads were all destroyed before any of them could make it to assault range.

We then reset and I chose to field the Walker (armoured car stats) and a Grenade-launcher squad. I rolled much better on activation, and was able to present FGs' defenders with more targets than they could shoot. The walker also drew a lot of fire, and was able to assault one position and cause the defenders to flee, after which they were gunned down. The walker then advanced on the HMG position, but by then I had lost most of the infantry squads, which made it impossible to secure a victory.

I really enjoyed the game. Rolling for number of activations and distance when running gave the game a randomness that kept the players on the edge. I found myself using the "Move Out!" order almost every turn to try to cross the killing ground to make it into assault sooner.

I feel the game managed to recreate the deadliness of crossing open ground against rapid-firing weapons, and assaulting an enemy in a prepared position, and how specialist troops can help even the odds. I do feel that the openness of our set-up did not sufficiently play up the issues with firing arcs, and this was more so after I watched this video:

The game is of course not historically accurate, but it did get me thinking about the use of wire obstacles. In most games, obstacles exist to slow the enemy down, but their other role of channeling them into killing areas is not well-represented as the rules are not restrictive on firing arcs, or do not give a bonus for pre-ranging or pre-registering fire.

I thought about a few options, and I think I will try the following system:

Wire obstacle sections are 6" in length. When placed less than 6" apart, the line between two sections is considered a killing ground.

A unit may cross a wire section by moving up to it and ending its activation there. It may not Redeploy (run) across a wire section. During its next activation, the unit is placed on the other side of the section, and end its activation. This means that crossing a wire obstacle will expose a unit to enemy firing for at least two turns, and more if the player rolls poorly on activation.

A unit may cross a killing ground as per normal, including using the Redeploy order. However, a unit that does so will suffer a -1 to hit penalty (in addition to the -1 penalty for moving in open) until its next activation.

I have ordered some wire obstacle sections off eBay, and will give these rules a try when I can get them painted.

Until then, here is a posed shot of some of the figures and terrain pieces I have in my collection.

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Imperium Immortalis Infantry

I managed to paint up a few more of the Imperium Immortalis figures from the kickstarter. As with the cavalry, these are beautiful figures, but they are difficult to assemble - I have probably more than two dozen foot figures from the kickstarter, but I decided to only assemble and paint up the minimum number I need to play Trench Hammer.

The figures below are the engineer from the kickstarter; the body of the HMG gunner is actually from Mad Robot Miniatures, and identical to the one I used for their opposing army - the body of the HMG gunner and the tripod from the kickstarter looked so difficult to assemble, I gave up without even trying. The gun itself is also from the kickstarter, although the tripod is from another maker (I forget which), and the pintle is just a bit of a plastic sprue, while the ammunition and ammunition box are from Anvil Industries. I also decided against assembling and painting a gunner's assistant, and instead will use the engineer figure as the assistant, or a Forward Observer if needed.

The engineer figure is probably my favourite foot figure from the lot, as it exudes attitude and character.

The next three figures are specialist figures, which I plan to use to designate a squad as a specialist squad, being the grenade-launcher squad, the flamethrower squad, and the assault squad respectively.

The assault specialist is actually just a standard trooper from the set. I chose th one which I thought was easiest to assemble, and added pauldrons to him.

The makers of these figures did their research, and the equipment of these figures resemble those of the German Infantry in WW1. The same is true of the flamethrower. I added the regiment number of the assault trooper to the pauldron, as I did with the Warzone figures.

Finally, we have the officer figure and the sniper. The officer is obviously overdressed for the battlefield, but he was a fun figure to paint. The sniper is a nice figure too, and I wasn't quite sure what colour to paint his cloak, but I decided on a plain sand colour in the end.

The rear view of these figures showed my use of the Kromlech weathering powder.

 Now that these figures are done, I hope to use them in a game of Trench Hammer tomorrow.