Sunday, 4 November 2018

Post Zomtober Post


November already, and while Bonfire Night looms large, I completely missed out on the second half of the Zomtober painting challenge.
As previously stated, "Hobby time" was under pressure last month, but when a drive shaft and wheel bearing on the van gave up the ghost, I'm afraid that was the end of my planned free time.
Every cloud has a silver lining though, and while the breakdown repairs were being done I also got the work needed for the MOT out of the way and the test done, which was due this month - so I've gained a little free time for the coming weeks which kinda makes up for some of what I lost!

The min's for the challenge have been sitting on the paint table, so I tackled them today - nothing special, just some male and female survivors from Mantic's "The Walking Dead".
I hope I've not upset any purists of the comics or TV show, but I've gone for a basic and generic paint job on these characters. They may be stars of TWD, but they'll probably be strting as grunts in my ATZ campaign!

The Guys - Rick & Carl facing off against The Governor.

The Gals - Andrea, Amy, Carol &Sophia.

Not much else to offer for this post, other than to mention that as a wargamer deprived of playing, modelling or painting, I took solace from a little 'Retail Therapy'......but more on that in a later post.

Many thanks for dropping by and not giving up on this humble scribe, and now the gig dates are settling back to 'normal', I hope to be getting back to some serious gaming and blogging - well, not "serious" serious..... you know what I mean!

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Zomtober 2018 week two.........

......... and after the long days and late nights this week, I feel like a zombie!
Still, apart from domestic duties I've had a day at home today and managed to add another zed to the horde thanks to the Zomtober Painting Challenge.

It's only a single mini, but if it weren't for the challenge, I know I would have done absolutely nothing hobby related today, so a huge "Thank You" goes out to everyone involved - you guys are awesome!

To see the inspirational posts from this years participants, just click on the links below

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Zomtober 2018 Week One

Hi all, here's my humble offering for the first week of  the Zomtober painting challenge. Taken from the D&D Castle Ravenloft boardgame, the mini is "Gravestorm" the drogolich.
There is actually a Zombie Dragon in the Ravenloft box, but it's a bit on the small size for my taste, so I've painted the dracolich to represent a zombie dragon for use in Dragon Rampant and D&D games.
Posed with his "handler" for scale

Not had chance to set up a linky-list yet, but the following link will teleport you over to the pulpcitizen blog, where you'll find the links to others taking up the Zomtober challenge....

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Zomtober is here!

"Tempus Fugits", and it's certainly fugited this year! October already, and I haven't managed to get my act together in preparation for the great Zomtober event. I've got some survivors that need painting, but other than an undead dragon that's awaiting pigment application, I've currently got no unfinished zombies in da house!

October is also insanely busy gigs-wise (actually our busiest month this year - why are we so popular for Halloween parties??!!), so this years challenge is going to be a real, erm, challenge!
More of the Zomtober activities to follow in their own dedicated posts, along with links to this years participants blogs.

Unfortunately, I've still not had the opportunity to fit in any of the games that are queuing up to be played (and written up), and I just know I'll be "binge playing" as soon as I get the chance - I've also been giving some thought about what to do when my "gaming table" is in use as a modelling bench, and have my own take on "Travel Battle" in the pipeline, using Irregular Miniatures 2mm minis and terrain.

Now, as promised, some thoughts on "All Things Zombie - Evolution".
The title is really fitting, because Ed has really made some BIG changes to our beloved ATZ game! I'm not one of the 'old hands' since I cut my teeth on Final Fade Out, but the veterans out there who started playing with Better Dead Than Zed and earlier will find massive changes to "THE" zombie apocalypse game.

I'm not sure how to tackle this - posting details of the rules would probably breech various copyright laws, so I'll do my best with generalisations. Ed is posting examples of play on the THW blog, which you'll find over in my list on the right hand side bar >>>>>>>

First off, let me say that the game is extremely streamlined with most of the changes aimed at speeding up play - for example, the introduction of "battle boards" which dispense with measuring distances for movement and firing. Also new rules for actions like "Searching Buildings" are very much simplified - two battleboards are supplied with the rules, but you can optionally treat each 1ft square of your old table as a 'battleboard'.
For us folks who prefer to play over a 3ft x 3ft table and don't like the 'abstract' nature of the battle boards (all movement and firing is restricted to just the battle board area - the rest of the table is 'ignored'), there's a free download supplement titled "ATZ Tabletop Convention Play" ( I think "Conventional" play would be more explanatory), and here we find all the familiar mechanics along with some additional 'new' content.
Of course, there just had to be changes to the old "In Sight" test....... is this the most tweaked rule in the history of the game?

Other significant changes include a new method of increasing/decreasing Rep in campaigns, a new class known as "Sheeple" who are neither Gangers or Survivors, new (simplified) age groups, and (I really like this one) gone are the 'standard' 3 PEF's per encounter..... the number is now randomised and weighted so there's the probability of fewer in rural areas, more in suburbs and most in urban environments!
Players who like to 'Talk the Talk' will either love or hate the new "Interaction" rules,  and my own star character Brad will need to have a read of the new "Companionship" rules considering his relationship with Hannah!
What I don't want him looking at are the new "Fame and Fortune" rules - Stars decide on their campaign 'goal' then track their progress via monthly Rep increase/decreases before "Retiring" at the end of a ten year campaign..........

To end, I'll  draw your attention to "The Town", a six area introductory campaign module provided at the end of the main rules.
Oh, and did I mention the "Ragers" or "Smart Zombies"? (or the magic using "Casters", hairy "Lycaons", blood thirsty "Vampires" or Resident Evil 'Alice' - esque "Razors"?) If you're finding survival against zombies and gangers too bland, you have these additional optional classes fully described and given their rules stats to spice up your games!

So, will I be 'Evolving' from Final Fade out?
No. But just as players have ported over their preferred mechanics from older versions into ATZ:FFO, I'll definitely be taking some of the better rules out of this new 'tool box' to use in my existing campaign.
I can also see an opportunity to use a lot of the 'streamlined play' content to allow for quick scenarios and 'side quests' to be played out while I'm away from home gigging!

Sorry for this being yet another late and "wordy" post - normal service WILL be resumed as soon as possible!!

Thursday, 20 September 2018


Well it's been a while, but at last here's a LONG overdue post on the blog!
Family commitments, work, a leaky gutter on the front of the house and mechanical problems with the van have left me with virtually no hobby time to speak of, but thankfully there's still been a trickle of post-worthy progress and finding myself with the opportunity, I'm making the effort - just to restore my mojo.
I'm not going to do anything daft like saying "Things should start returning to normal" (whatever 'normal' is), because the last time a did that, they didn't!!!

Anyhow, I've hardly lifted a paintbrush over the last month, but was determined to keep things at least ticking over, doing a little bit whenever I got the chance - usually while having a Java Lava before setting off somewhere else in the van.
The result of this plan are presented here.....
The drummers are "Musicians" for my Test Of Honour warbands. I decided to mount the pair with the portable drum together on a base, and will treat them as a single mini in the game. Conversely, I trimmed down the large base provided with the Dixon's mini and mounted the drummer on his own base - the drum can now double as a terrain piece.
A "Bannerman" and another Sergeant for the Takeda round off my total, but there's a Mura clan standard bearer still on the bench as 'work in progress'.

Something I would definitely have mentioned earlier was the Warlord Games "£1.00 sprue sale", where I splashed out and ordered a couple of Modern Military and a Female Survivors sprues for the All Things Zombie campaign (Mentioning ATZ, the sharp eyed among you will have noticed that my "Currently Reading" info box displays the latest version of my favourite zombie game, and I have been giving it a thorough read since its release - expect a review / game report soon.), and a Terminator endo sprue for Bladerunner droids, plus Terminator Resistance fighters - also destined for Bladerunner (and any other Sci-Fi games).
Not only is the number of mini's for a fiver great bang-for-the-bucks, but I received another 10% Off all in store purchases voucher....... all I need now is the time to pay them a visit!

I also picked up issue one of the Games Workshop part work whilst on my travels - three pots of paint and a brush for £1.99 is not the sort of price associated with GW, so how could I resist?
 The Space Mu-Reens have gone in the bits box for now, but let me know if you happen to need them to finish off a squad or something.

Now, after the painting and collecting, we move on to the interesting part of this post - gaming.
Being away from home and not being able to play was getting me down, and bless her, my wife noticed. Both of us are big fans of The Walking Dead tv series, and she'd been playing a new game on her mobile phone........
I'm far from keen on this kind of game, but she convinced me that "owt was better than nowt", so I downloaded it and started playing.
It's OK as a "gaming fix", but here's the revelation..... for the first time (apart from some 'social' D&D sessions with friends) - we were gaming together and not only that, it opened up the opportunity for me to talk her into actually trying a game of ATZ !!

So, it is with great pleasure that I present a brief AAR introducing Jackie.

Jackie and Cory were out on a foraging run in the downtown area of Lubbock - it's normally quiet around here, but the "Differently Dead" seem a lot more active today!
Even though they've gone in quietly, there's a whole bunch of zeds closing in from all sides. Jackie has ditched the original plan of checking out the diner across the road and decided they should duck into the general store on the corner.
The first PEF has emerged onto the street, but the school bus blocks the line of site
The pair enter the store and thankfully find it clear of zombies, they also see it's already been picked over - but whoever was here previously had left behind a loaded rifle!
Gratuitous overview of the zombies closing in on the store and all three PEF's on the move.
While Jackie started searching for anything else useful, Cory barricaded the front door by pushing shelving and shop furniture up against it...... and here, dear reader, I became engrossed in running the game and its narrative for SWMBO and made a complete hash of what few photo's I did remember to take!

Somehow, while barricading the door, Cory sprained his ankle very badly (Random Event after rolling "doubles" for initiative),
his cry of pain and stream of foul language distracted Jackie, who was sure she'd just spotted someone else out on the street over by the diner entrance (one of the PEF's moving into cover).
The walking cadavers were gathering outside the front of the store, and looking at the state of Cory's ankle, it was no time to risk checking upstairs.
The pair made their way over to the side door and checked for an escape route - a pair of zombies were shuffling along the alley but the crash of broken glass as the store front window gave way under the weight of the swarming undead spurred them on! A blast from Jackie's shotgun took down one of the zeds and cleared a path to safety.

As ever, ATZ:FFO took the game in a completely unexpected direction with the number of zombies generated, and I was worried that my Better Arf wouldn't get as much enjoyment as I'd hoped from such a restricted encounter ("First Impressions" and all that) - however, to my amazement and delight, she loved it !

Many thanks to regular visitors to the blog for your patience, and a big "Hiya" to newcomers Mike and Jonathan. Fingers crossed it won't be another month before the next post!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

King Charles raises his Standard at Nottingham Castle!

After months of political maneuvering and a stalemate in the "paper war",  the gloves are off!

The king raised the royal standard today, 22nd August 1642, in Nottingham castle and "Summoned all well affected people north of the River Trent to muster there", what better day to get my ECW campaign started?!
With curve balls aplenty to deal with, time has been VERY limited here at TWA Towers, but I'd earmarked today for a test drive of the "Pikemen's Lament" rules.

Chaotic scenes are witnessed across the East Midlands, as parties loyal to King or Parliament begin their initial moves to secure key locations for their cause. In the (fictional) Erewash Valley, the two major towns of Kenborough (parliamentarian) and Worringham (royalist) are polarised in their allegiances, and the struggle has begun for strategic control of  the region.

The first job was to create a pair of rookie junior officers using the 'Background' and 'Traits' tables in the rules, so allow me to present, for King Charles.........
Ensign Gerald Castledine. A weasel of a man with little honour, much to the chagrin of his rich merchant father who paid for his officer rank and financed his troop of horse.
Being of a "sly nature", he may refuse any personal challenges without occurring any usual moral checks.
For Parliament.......
Ensign Henry Palmerston. The son of a priest and seemingly also blessed in some way, as he always seems to escape danger.
Having the 'Blessed' trait makes him invulnerable to "Lucky Blows".

Next, I raised two "companies" to suite the scenario, which was a variation of 'Mission C: The Kings War Chest' in the rulebook -
On hearing that King Charles had declared a state of war, the local parliamentary C-in-C acted swiftly to consolidate men and munitions. The Trained Bands were called to arms, and a young officer (Ensign Palmerston) was instructed to seize the weapons, powder and shot stored at Trewes castle - by force if necessary, and transport them to Kenborough.
His company of foot were bolstered by a troop of dragoons for the mission, and a squadron of the Kenborough Horse were also placed at his disposal to act as escort once the munitions had been brought out of the castle.

Taking advantage of the confused state of affairs at the garrison, Ensign Palmerston soon had the contents of the armoury loaded into a pair of carts and away at speed with the dragoons, his pike and shot moving slower in an attempt to "screen" the rear.
Having outpaced the foot, and misunderstanding their orders to rendezvous with the Kenborough Horse at the bridge, the dragoons called a halt by the river and watered their horses while they waited for everyone else!
"Minimalist Wargaming" - as I said, hobby time is currently at a premium, but I was determined to get a game in - no chance of titivating the table scenically and there'll be no "cotton wool puffs of smoke" or fancy markers I'm afraid.
The dragoons watering their nags
The "Defenders" were allowed 4 points worth of troops on the table and in contact with the river. The rest of the force could arrive from turn 2 with successful 'Move Orders' on the north edge of the table (the screening force) or south edge (the rendezvous party).
The "Attackers" deployed their entire force on the west edge of the table (having sallied out from the castle), and would move first each turn (no rolling for initiative)
Castledine's cavaliers lead the royalist advance
This could be very one sided!
Especially since the dragoons failed to activate!!
Gerald Castledine is a young man with something to prove - and since he commands a unit of cavaliers, what better way to go about it than by charging pell-mell at the enemy (especially those rag tag dragoons who have finally responded to the royalist advance!)
The dashing cavaliers suffer the first casualty from the skirmishing dragoons (was this unlucky chap the first fatality of the war??)
The end of turn 2, with parliamentarian reinforcements arriving after the royalist advance.
Both troops of Kenborough Horse and the pikemen led by Ensign Palmerston have arrived 'on time' but the musketeers failed to activate.
Castledine's launch the first charge of the battle, but the dragoons successfully evade......
.....only to be charged again by another troop of royalist horse who'd advanced around the flank.
Castledine's troop was itself then charged and seen off by a unit of the Kenborough horse!
It looks like poor Gerald is heading for an early bath (in the river!)
Over on the left flank, the inexperienced royalist cavalry attempted to ride down the foot soldiers who'd just strolled down the road and started waving their pointy sticks at them and calling them unsavoury names.
The outcome was predictable!
Not wanting to go anywhere near formed pikemen, the better disciplined parliamentarian horsemen discharged their firearms at the opposing musketeers, with what seemed little effect....
... it obviously rattled them though, because they failed their "Shoot" activation order when they attempted to respond at the very start of the next turn.......
......and since ANY failed activation passes the initiative to the opposite side, and their illustrious leader and two troops of horse were running away, and the parliamentarian musketeers had turned up, the old corporal in charge of the Trewes castle garrison infantry decided to march his men back to the security of said castle and leave the wagons to the roundheads! What was in 'em anyway??

Trouble ahead for young Gerald Castledine when he dries out and arrives back at Trews castle, and accolades await Henry Palmerston if he can get back to Kenborough with the wagons.
A thoroughly enjoyable test drive of the rules, and I now "get" how dragoons 'work' which seemed odd when I initially read the rulebook.
Looking at the game and the rules as I typed this AAR, I spotted a mistake I'd made regarding when and how troops react to losing in melee - well, the war has only just started and generally all rank and file participants (including your humble scribe) are new to this malarky!

Many thanks for visiting, reading, and putting up with the poor photo's! As ever your comments and questions are most welcome!

Monday, 6 August 2018

WIP Week

Unfortunately no game report this post, my gaming space is being used to "rough out" ideas for creating a modular urban layout.
I've cut a dozen 1ft squares from 5mm foamcore, and I'm using my eclectic mix of mdf buildings, along with the TT Combat mdf paving.
Much head-scratching going on at the moment, as I try to realise just what I've got in my minds eye, and I'll keep you informed on my successes and failures via progress reports!

Using my 'playing area' for large modelling projects has been OK up to now, but this week it's really been a pain in the posterior by slamming the brakes on the run of campaign games. It's a poor compromise and I really must sort out an alternative solution!! 

The paint table has seen a flurry of activity this week. after I had a stroke of luck on ebay last week. Someone was selling their TWD:All Out War collection in two listings - the core set plus extras in one, and Prelude to Woodbury plus extras in the other. I thought the starting price was very reasonable so placed a bid on each........ to my amazement no-one else bid on them!
The zombies and four of the survivors were painted to a nice standard, and all they needed was their bases painting grey (the previous owner had chosen green) and the minis treating to a coat of Army Painter 'Strong Tone' wash to tie them in with my own zeds.

So, I've added to the horde via the All Out War core set,
Prelude To Woodbury expansion,
and the walker from the "Carol" booster.
There's another walker in the Andrea booster, but I didn't spot him in his black primer when I grabbed the rest and he's currently under the brush!
The four painted survivors again just needed grey bases, but a 'Soft Tone' wash to match my other "not yet infected" minis.

Apologies for the humble offering this week, but I figured that a paltry post is better than no post at all, and I thank you for your patience!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

On the outskirts of Anson.

I was in need of a little "light relief" after the trials of the last couple of weeks, and wanted to ease myself back into "normality", so I threw down my 'Lidl grass mat', plonked my most recent 'terrain project' (a tarted up charity shop find) in the middle, and played out the latest ATZ:FFO episode which I'd cooked up in my head during the trips up and down the motorway.

After leaving Doc Littlelake's surgery with the RV, the group drove out to where they'd hidden the pickup and Jeep. Amy was still in severe shock after seeing her zombiefied father, and then having to walk through the mess that had been his brains, on her way to the fire exit as they made their escape.
Despite Amy's condition, and Zac moping over his broken pistol, the encounter had definitely been a success - they just needed to rest up for the night.

The following morning, Brad headed the convoy west (route markers) with no clear plan in his mind, but an instinctive urge in his gut, to find some "space". He needed time to think, and time to discuss the options with the group, and heading towards open country just seemed the best thing to do - and anyhow, IF they decided to make for Nevada, they were going in the right direction!
A note on the timeline.
The previous encounter, "Back to the 'burbs" took place on Day 16 of the outbreak. Resting overnight on the outskirts of Jacksboro means the journey starts on Day 17, and though the distance is only 200 and something miles (which would normally take maybe 4 - 5 hours) with current conditions, avoiding contact etc, "proceeding with extreme caution" it takes a day to reach their current location and the group arrive on the 'Outskirts Of Anson' on Day 18.
Day 19 is spent "resting" and deciding that the general area seems quiet enough to try and set up a camp - they can try and find out how the government are dealing with the infestation by contacting  the authorities in nearby Lubbock.

Day 20 - Brad, Zac and Nate have taken the Jeep on a supply and scouting run. They need to replenish the water supplies and find a site further off the beaten track to set up the group's base.
Spotting an overgrown sign saying "Gas & Grits" at a junction, they  turn off the road and follow the track, arriving at an old gas station after about a mile.
They switch off the engine and step out of the Jeep to take a look around. There are a couple of lone zeds approaching from the woods on either side of the track (They haven't spotted the group of zombies behind the building) and Zac's eyes light up - first of all as he admires the abandoned motorbike, and then when he spots the baseball bat in the hands of what might have been the bikes previous owner! Currently having no weapon (His pistol broke in the previous encounter), he prised the bat from the Deadmans Hand.
The group had won the initiative roll for turn one, and the zombies and PEF's now moved.
Brad thought there was something behind the sign board, but it was just a bad case of nerves and it turned out to be nothing. (passed no D6 - PEF removed) 
He was sure there was SOMETHING out there though, when he was certain he'd seen movement over by the old wrecked car! (passed one D6 - ER rating increased by 1, PEF removed)

Nate also spotted something behind the approaching zombie........
..... a group of citizens! (passed 2D6 - Contact! which turned out to be "the Kirkmam family" after rolling on the 'what' and 'how many' tables)
The Kirkmans were armed, but looked more scared than aggressive - they'd been hiding out in the woods since the outbreak, and the noise of the Jeep's engine had been the sound of salvation to their ears! (the 'Meet & Greet' went in the group's favour, resulting in the citizens asking to join them)

The situation at the end of turn one.
The  zombies won the initiative roll for turn two, but with a "6", none would activate.
Hefting his new baseball bat, Zac advanced on the zed as it stood confused - not knowing which way to turn with human flesh in front and behind it! Nate moved up in support, while Brad called over to the Kirkmans to keep cool.
With a wet crunch, Zac felled the zombie with blow that smashed it's skull and it collapsed like a puppet that'd had its strings cut!
Turn three started with "doubles" rolled for initiative, so an event card was drawn from the deck -
the re-roll once again resulted in the zombies remaining inactive.
Heading around the front of the gas station, Brad decided to take a shot at the other lone zed, rather than wait for it to approach, or move over towards the trees to take it on in hand-to-hand.
The shot rang out and the biter bit the dust.
No zombies are attracted by the shot (thanks to the Event Card), but it's still 'Days 11 - 20'  and the cops might respond.
I say "might" because I've tweaked the rules and will be dicing each turn for their arrival, starting on the turn specified in ATZ:FFO - in this case 1D6 plus 1D3 (Turn 8)

The group won the initiative for turn four, but this turn the zombies will activate!
Heading around to check the opposite side of the shack, Brad spots the group of undead, and quickly gets the guys with melee weapons to the front. The bunch of three advance directly towards them, while the fourth zed, still out of line-of-sight moves to the right, behind the fence where it last saw its human prey.
Once again the zeds win the initiative roll, but fail to activate.
As the walking corpses pause in a confused huddle, Brad takes the fight to them with Zac and Dave while Nate, Hillary and Christine take up covering fire positions in case the fight goes badly.
Dave thrusts his hunting knife into the putrid head of his opponent and it's instantly killed, Zac swings his bat at the big lass but only manages to knock her down - Brad delivers the killing blow to her temple and the machete slices off the top of her head  like opening a boiled egg (except the contents oozing out did not look anything like as appetizing!!)
Turn 6 and the zombies win the initiative roll and activate!
The remaining zed makes a lunge for Dave, but he side steps and knocks it to the ground....
......where Zac lays in with his baseball bat, raining a flurry of blows to its head and reducing it to pulp.
Meanwhile, the last of the zombies has moved around the fence and is now making its way towards the noise.
Turn 7 sees the group win the initiative again, though the zeds will also activate.
Hillary has spotted the approaching zombie, and calls out a warning to the rest of the group. After a quick look around, Brad leads the rest over - "Let's take it down and see what we've got here"
With its arms grasping, and slavering jaws snapping, the last zed heads straight for the group.
Turn 8, and I make the first check for the cops - no response this turn, so they get a plus one on the dice next turn. The group wins initiative roll.
Brad steps forward and makes a two-handed swing with his machete - decapitating the remaining zombie.
Turn 9. Still no police response.
Brad wastes no time and heads straight into the gas station with Nate, while the rest of the group watch their backs out on the front porch.
"Nobody's home", and they left a crate of beer behind!
Post Encounter
Brad sent Nate off in the Jeep to get the rest of the group from the camp, while he and Zac had a chat with the new guys, as well as taking a closer look around the new site.
By late afternoon, the convoy had arrived and parked up. After the introductions had been made over a meal washed down with a beer, Brad posted a sentry duty roster and the group settled in for the night.
So, Brad has made it to the end of Day 20, and the group has expanded and established a camp. On reflection, I now feel a little ashamed about just throwing down the terrain for such a pivotal game!

Definitely a 'success' for the group, and Brad had no problems on the "Keeping it Together" checks afterwards - pretty much in line with how I'm feeling as I hope to get back into gaming and blogging.
Many thanks for dropping by, and as always your comments or questions are most welcome!