Thursday, December 29, 2011

Chapter IV: A Newbie Hope

You just never know what's going to happen in a Two Hour Wargame (THW) game.  Played with the 5150:New Beginnings ruleset with PEF movement courtesy of Colonial Adventures.

Notes on the game:
The rules used were 5150: New Beginings.

The first PEF (Possible Enemy Force) was just nerves -- a peaceful herbivore having a snack. 

Biclighter is sent ahead to scout the sacred circle of the Old Ones.  He approaches cautiously and peeks around the corner, weapon drawn -- aah! a guard!   (Note: at this point I discovered it was a really, really, really bad idea to send a single figure out scouting in a THW game.  The PEF resolved as an equal group -- there was an entire congregation at worship in the sacred circle!  I decided most of the supplicants would be bowed down to their moist god, but there would be at least one tribescreature at the entrance handing out hymnals and asking for donations and such.  So the insight was between Biclighter and the Usher)

Biclighter gets the drop on the usher and I decide rather than Fire he will attempt a People challenge.  A Major Success will result in him being taken to the leader peacefully.  Anything else will be bad news -- after all, he's just desecrated a sacred site. 

Biclighter passes 1d6 -- not a total failure so: 
The usher just points and stammers.  The congregation turns to shush him but their annoyance quickly turns to alarm.  And two of the supplicants are off duty police with their pistols on them  (Congregation randomly generated from the Ganger table.) 

Seconds later both police were down and out of the fight.  And I realized that the unarmed congregants should have charged so they do so now.  The first is gunned down OD.  The second makes it into combat but ends up knocked down stunned.

All of that from just one in-sight test.  (I think I would do this differently now but for this time I had one Insight for Biclighter and the usher and then let the congregation turn around and roll a second Insight against Biclighter with the usher out of it.  But this worked too so...)

[Ed: I wonder what the dread god will make of this innocent blood being spilled in his holy circle....]

Since the Rebels were still active I let them move up and take the two live churchgoers into custody.  (I forgot to do Man Down tests for them! dang!)

With two PEFs resolved and the last in cover in the town (so it's not going to be moving), the Rebels prepare to cross the ford -- just as another PEF shoed up in the middle of the river (doubles on activation).  Luckily this turned out to be another beast who lumbered off into the jungle (there was a clear LOS up the river to where the PEF was generated). 

At this point I made the executive decision that the the last PEF was going to be the main body, so the Rebels advanced cautiously into the village.  I'd learned from the first fight and sent 2 ahead this time -- Luc and Biclighter -- with the other group covering. 

So Biclighter pushes around a hut and spots a tribesman with a SMG!  Luc advances two inches bringing the SMG into sight along with a regular ganger.  Luc fires and spectacularly misses the SMG gunner.  Biclighter splits his fire, missing the SMG but taking the other down OOF.  The SMG opens up, also splitting fire -- Biclighter goes OOF and Luc goes down Stunned! At this point it looks bad for the Rebels! But...the tribal elder activates his stealth suit and orders his warriors to charge into battle -- one is forced to duck back but  in a scene out of a John Woo film ALL the rest of the combatants on both sides go down -- the last two with simultaneous OD results!  Awesome! 

So the final scene is set.  Luc shakes his head and sits up groggily.  Biclighter is down and moaning out in the open to his right.  A quick glance behind shows the two other Rebel troopers dead.  In front of him he can sense a warrior.  And to his left a massive dark presence lurks in the Force -- the tribal elder.  Luc moves first and dashes around the hut to active fire the elder (Grath stats) from behind.  Snake eyes -- ones on both shots! 

Activation passes to the tribesmen -- the Jackal activates first and charges Luc from the flank.  Luc desperately knocks him to the ground as the Arbiter charges around the hut.  Luc and the Arbiter face off -- and it isn't pretty.  The Arbiter grunts in satisfaction as his sword claw goes straight through Luc's chest.

Miraculously Luc is simply OOF -- which means that the tribesmen take him and Biclighter hostage -- along with the droid...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Terrain: Alien Trees via the "Dip Method"

I'd been experimenting with the dip method of painting miniatures -- I had a bunch of cheap plastic pirate figures to use for a (still unplayed) demo game.  The dip method as I understand it is to simply paint basic colors onto the mini and then  dip the whole mini into MinWax (a polyurethane stain).  As the stain drains off, you are left with instant shadowing and a bit of shading.   This worked pretty well for the pirates, but the warnings on the label of the stain were rather alarming -- alarming enough that I have now stopped using it, depending more on the "magic wash" method. 

In the meantime, though, while out on a walk with my daughter we discovered these wonderful little seed pods on some of the landscaping plants  -- dried out in the 100+ degree heat of South Carolina. Note the little seeds on the plate.  We started with a dozen pods of different sizes.

And thus was a project forged. Follow along as my assistant demonstrates the method.  

Simply dip the pods into the stain and place them on a paper plate (the type with a waxy coating) to dry.  Now theses pods soaked up a LOT of stain,  so "to dry" here means "turn occasionally," "move to a fresh paper plate occasionally," and "wait at least 2 days".

I was worried about the fragile stems of the pods, but after the dip they are hard as rock.  They've been cat-tested and survived.  Next is a drybrush and mounting them on a base.  Total active time: ~ 15 minutes

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Colony 13: An Oral History of the Endless War. First Encounters

81st Mobile Infantry MIFHU, location withheld
[Corporal Tommy Robins lies abed in the 81st Mobile Infantry's field hospital unit (MIFHU).  A member of the recon platoon, he was assigned to the SAR (Search and Rescue) operation where we were first violently informed that we were not alone on this planet.  He draws on a cancer stick while recounting his story.  His fingers shake only slightly but it's obvious that even this minor movement hurts. The bandages wrapped tightly around his ribcage are spotted with blood where the HEL (High Energy Laser) punched through his torso.  It's been 6 weeks since his injury but with the lack of regeneration tech the healing process is slow.]

It hurts like hell.  Get it?  It was a HEL that got me.  Sorry, a little infantry humor.  In the MI, you ain't going home until you're missing major body parts -- and even then that's just to get you fitted out for the prosthetics before they send you out again.

This here's a golden wound -- nothing major hit.  Collapsed the lung so it's serious enough to keep me on light duty while I recover and not serious enough to slow me down -- much.  It's downright relaxin'.  The nice thing about HEL's, the reason we don't use 'em, is that they cauterize as they go through you.  You may lose a limb from tourniquet effect, but you ain't generally going to bleed out.  Course if it hits something vital, you're dead -- but that's true even for a slingshot. 
[He stares at the far wall, lost in his thoughts]
I used to bulls-eye the little Pyk-Paks back home in Beggar's Canyon.  Good eatin'.  About the best eatin' you could get if you were a poor moisture farmer on an even poorer planet.

But you wanted to hear my story.  How about that?  The story of Tommy Robins!  The folks back home will get a kick from that.  Guess I better watch my language or Mom will be after me.

Anyway, I was minding my own business, doing what every trooper does best -- catching a 42 [MI view sleep as the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything -- thus a "42"] -- when the call came down.  Sarge was already talking with the LT so I got my kit together and did the other thing that troopers do best:  I waited. 

Sarge briefed us in the dropship -- something had come down from orbit.  And that something was broadcasting a warning about Bugs as it came down.  Bugs is our specialty [he grins].  So we were goin' in to look for survivors.  And we were going in on the bounce, 'cause we weren't sure that there wasn't Bugs already chomping on any survivors.  It might end up being just another bug hunt.

We got set down just outside of this village in the desert.  You could see it used to be a pretty nice place, but the Endless War had done its normal remodeling.  Rubble in the streets, half-destroyed houses.  And nobody in sight.

We hadn't gone a dozen meters when Sarge brought his rifle up and fired a quick burst into the second floor of the building right next to us.  Something fell to the street -- it looked like a child.  We were all shocked at first -- had Sarge finally lost it?

And of course the LT was all over his [censored trying to find out what was going on and who had discharged his weapon without orders.  Sarge ignored him and strode forward to the body.  When he kicked it over, there was a HEL trapped underneath the body.  That's what Sarge had seen.  The LT shut up when he finally paid attention to the cam feed.

This was the first encounter with the Jawa Fedayeen?

Yep.   Little lizard like buggers you wouldn't be scared of, except for those eyes. Those [censored] eyes, man.  They get one look at you and it's game over, man, game over.  They glow -- they fracking glow -- staring out of those little brown hoods they all wear.  I'd rather face a bug -- they don't look you in the face when they kill you.

Of course at that point we knew the clock was ticking.  We didn't know what the lizards were, but we were betting there were more of them.  We started moving and soon saw the escape pod -- intact, but it looked like it had a rough landing 'cause it had dug a nice crater into the street.  

Things get a little fuzzy here for me.  We saw 1st squad get into a terrific firefight -- this building we called the Hilton just seemed to open up with laser blasts.  1st squad was driven back into cover, but they seemed to be handling it ok.  

Sarge decided we were going to go for the objective and we double-timed it, exchanging fire with little groups of Jawa as we went.  They were annoying, but didn't have enough firepower to do much harm -- I saw the body armor of the guy next to me flare briefly as it absorbed a hit, but he didn't even flinch. 

Of course, they did distract us and things got a bit chaotic.  1st squad was still laying down heavy firepower, LT was yelling for a situation report, and we were making a dash for the civilians.  Naturally, that was when I got hit.

I came to lyin' on the floor of the dropship.  It was hard to breathe but the medic was with me.  He'd saved our [censored] so many times that I relaxed a little when I saw him.  He wasn't looking at me -- he was more worried about the civilians -- which meant I was going to live.

That was Ripley?
Ripley and a little girl.  Never found out her name. 

She's a minor; they won't release her name.

[Nodding] Well, she's a right tough little mother.  She was looking at me -- this look of intense concentration, like she was taking my measure.  Was I tough enough to live through what she had lived through? 

She didn't seem to like the answer.  I passed out again.

[~ 13 ~]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

By Your Command

Colony 13 -- By Your Command

So the very day that I asked on my favorite gaming list (Hello, TNGG!) if anyone sold 15mm Cylons -- these guys went on sale:

I ordered the Star Trek figs, too -- that was just mean releasing them on the same day.  Ordered on Friday, received on Monday -- that's service!  And the owner is a fellow Louisianan.

The Sybots are dead ringers for the old-stlye Centurions.  EXCEPT for the head.  The details are right but it's more skull-like than Centurion.  But it was pretty simple to sculpt on a head crest and widen the helmet out.  Here's what I ended up with:

Why, yes, that is Gold Leader in the middle....
I just need something for the kilt.  I'm not sure I'm up to sculpting chain mail that drapes convincingly.  Hmm, maybe tissue paper soaked in white glue. That worked for my cloth balloon corps.

Special rule: Aliens deduct one die from close combat as they are mesmerized by the moving eye (think kittens and laser pointers).

Colony 13: News - 1st battle - Rescue the contractors


++++ Colony 13 News - Rescue the Contractors, er, Survivors
++++ "News from the colony where every day is a Thursday ++++

Overview - 5 minutes into the future, err, I mean, mission
Since I wanted to use the asymmetric warfare rules from Force on Force,  I tried out the "Rescue the Contractors" scenario.  

Simply by wanting to run this scenario, I have discovered that there is an active Jawa (Star Wars) insurgency!  Incursions into the Jawa area are met with mobs of the little hooded guys intent on stealing any piece of technology they can find.  I realized that you never actually see a Jawa in the movies -- you only see their hoods and glowing eyes.  Turns out they are reptilian (Khurasan miniatures Chewk Tribesmen).

What could these civvies possibly know about Bugs??
So for the first Sci-Fi Crossover (to borrow someone else's term), the Light Mobile Infantry of the Starship Troopers Movie (I plan to do ST: The Book later) faced off against the Jawas of Star Wars.  The objective?  The recently crashed escape pod of Ripley and Newt.  No one knew who these people were, but they had been broadcasting a warning about Bugs as they came in, so SI-CON was interested!    

Accordingly, Lieutenant "Ricky" Ricardo of the 501st Light Mobile Infantry ("Ricky's Raccoons")  (Khurasan Corporate Marines)deployed from their dropships at the edge of a colony known only as "Colony 13."  They were given a strict 60 minute timetable (6 turns).

Jawa Fedayeen sniper accidentally captured on holo by Universe Today reporter <REDACTED> a split second before 1st squad opened fire

1st Squad immediately spotted a sniper and blew him away as 2nd squad advanced to cover behind the Hilton hotel.  (It was at this point that I realized just how extremely lethal a USMC fireteam is in Fof terms!).  The Jawa response was minimal - each time they opened up the Mobile Infantry simply wiped out that group.  The only significant action was that 4 Jawa Chieftains were making their way behing the Hilton -- to join up with a large group already there who needed to be commanded into the fight.

Turn 2 passed much the same.  But Turn 3 - oi!    The Fedayeen Jawa made some progress in turn 3.  An RPG hit against 1st squad caused the first MI casualty and forced the squad back into cover of the power plant.  And behind the Hilton the leaders arrived -- as did signifant reinforcements.  And 2nd Squad had just moved out of cover towards the objective -- the civilians hiding behind their still smoking escape capsule.  

19 Jawas swarmed into the Hilton and took up position along the rooftop.  But the MI spotted the danger and 2nd squad hosed the building down, putting down half the mob and causing 2 of them to run away.  Nevertheless, the remainder were able to drive the MI into cover and caused another casualty.
Hmm.  30 minutes into the mission and all of the MI troopers are pinned down in cover and each squad has 1 casualty.  I realized that the only way to finish the mission would be if 1st squad ran toward the civilians, picked them up, and wasted no time in hustling them off the board.  Otherwise time was going to run out and it was game over, man, game over.
Besides -- the charge of 1st squad would be glorious!

1st Squad's casualty had just had the breath knocked out of him -- so the squad took off toward the objective.  2nd Squad provided overwatch and decimated the Fedayeen Jawa in the Hilton, rendering them combat ineffective.  

After that -- it was a walk in the park.  1st squad moved with the civies toward the west board edge and prepared to exit -- and along the way blew away another Jawa mob who were just beginning to gather to block their way.  2nd squad followed more slowly with their lightly wounded casualty and suffered one last RPG attack which thankfully caused no more casualties.  

Despite how it turned out, this was a tense game.  The time limit means that if the trooper units get driven back too far, they won't have time to get the civilians off the board. 
I need more d8s. :-)  You roll handfuls of them in Force On Force for regular troops (which, and I hate to admit this, is probably an improvement over StarGrunt in that the law of averages comes into play more)

Also, I need a better name for the Hilton.   Hotel Paradise? Ideas, anyone?

Colony 13: First denizens on order

The first order for Colony 13 has been placed.  In the meantime I'm finishing up a 6mm scale Tyranid armyat a rapid clip in order to clear the decks for 15mm production.  And in doing so, I discovered a couple of bonuses:
1. I DO have some 15mm Sci Fi!  Years ago I played in one of Stuart Murray's notorious 15mm Aliens games at GZG ECC.  IIRC, I played the corporation representative who managed to make his way down to the queen's nest and steal some eggs before the Marines arrived to flame the entire colony.  Or something like that.  I do remember that we had some  power armor suits which in true Murray fashion were "highly experimental".
At any rate, I was digging through boxes and came upon a set of (Freikorps?) armed civilian colonists -- complete with facehugger and Not-Newt grasping Not-Ripley's hand.  Very cool.  And so the first  colonists have arrived!   Now they just need basing (I need washers!) and a colony to inhabit!
2. 6mm Tyranids -- some of the mid-size and larger models make VERY good bug aliens.   I can't remember what some of these are called but the lictors for instance seem perfect for 15. 

Colony 13: The Idea

Colony 13: The idea

I'm embarking on a new  "role-playing" adventure.   I've decided to dive into 15mm Science Fiction gaming in a very controlled way.  By controlled, I mean I don't want to end up with a bunch of unpainted miniatures and I actually want to use them in a game.  Also, there is a central theme for the game.
Luckily there is are rulesets which encourages solo play and role-playing : Two Hour Wargames "5150" and AmbushAlley's "Tomorrow War" (to be published).    I expect house rules to follow.
The theme is simple:  Colony 13 is located at the exact point in space-time where every science fiction story ever conceived by man or dolphin intersects.   Imperial Stormtroopers versus Giger's Aliens?  You got it.  Plus BSG Centurions, Daleks, District 9 "Crusties".  They're all there.  Trapped in a pocket universe that they can't escape. :-)
I chose 15mm so that I can play easily on my cramped kitchen table --- most battles will be on a 3'x3' board.  The idea is "game in a box" -- I want to be able to grab the box, set up and play through a game and put it away so that the cats don't eat it -- all in an evening.
The cool thing about choosing 15mm is that I have ZERO supplies for it.  So the colony will grow as I acquire terrain, buildings, etc.  And I hope to document as much as possible in a webcomic kind of way.   Oh!  And I've set a $25 monthly budget limit on acquisitions  although I will have to be slightly flexible in this to save on shipping costs.  So I've decided to combine July and August to kick things off.  (So that I can get two sides to fight!)
One other goal is to spend as much time on the terrain as I do on the miniatures.  It's a doll house with Aliens.  :-)
It's a grand experiment.  And the first miniature will be on the way in a week or two (the company I ordered from   is waiting on a restock, which suits my timeline just fine).
PS - Oops!  I just realized I do have some 15mm stuff -- for AK47 Republic, battles in Africa.  I might be able to use those once terraforming of the colony has started. :-)