Tuesday, 23 January 2018

A Mixed Bag

A sombre note to today's post after reading the sad news from Bryan (Vampifan). I know that everyone who follows Bryan's inspirational blogs will be united in deepest sympathy for his loss, and as he implies, "carry on blogging" while he deals with this difficult time.
Our thoughts are with you Bryan.

This week has been a bit of a mixed bag on the modelling front, starting with this, the penultimate building from the kits I was lucky enough to get in my Christmas presents. It represents a "Whealdon House", and only leaves the Blacksmith's from the same manufacturer (Timeline Miniatures) to assemble.
I'm planning on using this building for a couple of purposes - a small manor belonging to an estate holder (a Whealdon house was a late medieval home built for the likes of a a Yeoman), a grand townhouse (belonging to the likes of a wealthy merchant), and an inn (I just need to make a removeable sign).
Of course, most if not all of the buildings for ECW and Witchfinder General will also find a use in my fantasy games!

I've also had my first play with "Mini-Mold" from TT Combat when I used it to cast a corner post in green stuff for some plastic fencing (the supplied posts are all end-to-end).
Pleased with how easy the stuff is to use - just pop it in a mug of boiling water for 3 minutes, then press it onto the subject to be molded (after fishing it out of the mug with a pair of tweezers it's cool enough to handle straight away), I decided to try something more ambitious and set about preparing a "casualty marker" for the ECW rules I'll be using.
The casualty mini was simply glued onto a round mdf  base and then I built up some miliput to eliminate any "undercuts" before giving it a textured finish.
Once the mold was prepared, I mixed up some more Miliput, pressed it into place and left it to harden overnight. The following day the first marker was popped out and ready for a quick lick of paint.
They aren't brilliant, but "fit for purpose" and meet the aim of the project:~ save a few shillings on mini's and mdf bases for game markers, and save time texturing their bases before slapping some paint on 'em!
I suppose it could be viewed as "piracy" since I'm reproducing a commercially available mini?  but since they're for my solo ECW games, they are strictly for 'Private Use Only'.

The last project for this post was a bit of a rush job as a result of the  "Jacksboro" encounter. Once the group had driven clear of the Miller's apartment, Brad told Travis to pull over as soon as he saw somewhere quiet. The suburban area a short drive out of town looked OK, so they eased the pickup off the road  - and I now needed a suitable suburban dwelling for the next encounter!
I'd already assembled and primed this TT Combat suburban house , so I restarted the stalled build and cut some internal walls from foamcore before giving it a quick paint job.
It's not finished yet, but useable if I need it for an ATZ game in the next couple of days.

Apart from that, I'm just rummaging through my lead and plastic pile and sorting the next mini's for the painting table.
Thanks again for dropping by, and I hope you're having a productive time yourself (if you're not busy gaming!)

Friday, 19 January 2018

Jacksboro postscript

The anatomy of a game.

This was supposed to have been a Dragon Rampant game in part of the ongoing "Dark Conspiracy" fantasy campaign, but my opponent cancelled because of a hospital appointment (never used to happen when we were younger!). The table had already been set up, and I resisted the urge to play the game out solo, deciding instead to catch up on events with Brad and his group.

Since the encounter needed setting up "on the fly", I thought it might be interesting to give a 'behind the scenes' view to how I approach my narrative solo games, and the "Jacksboro" ATZ:FFO encounter would be a perfect candidate since the game itself only lasted three turns!
Although "Mythic" is one of the useful tools I frequently use (and highly recommend BTW),
the Jacksboro encounter was largely driven by a series of simple reviews of the possibilities, decided by the dice whenever there was more than one viable option.

Here's how the thinking went:
When Brad's "recon / scavenging mission a few miles South East of the farm" returned with a hostile 'casualty' (the campaign hasn't polarised into labelled groups of Survivors and Gangers yet), the earlier priorities of improvised zombie defences and ample food and ammunition stocks were suddenly overshadowed by the realisation that the zombie outbreak had generated the threat of attack from other, armed and dangerous survivors.
They'd already witnessed gangs of looters and street thugs taking advantage of the breakdown of law and order, but this was something at a totally different level and called into question their isolated position at Campbells Farm. With that in mind, what was the group to do about their unwanted guest?
At the time, I could only think of the four options, and only one of them didn't rule itself out 'in character'.  The safety of the group was an issue (as it was in two of the rejected options), so how could that be tackled and where would they be going?
These were the considerations, along with a look at the Texas road map...
 I didn't want to play out the journey, and had previously come up with a table of possible events for "road trips" between locations, so just modified it for 'Day 14' and it went like this.....
Then, before packing away the scenery already on my gaming table, I set up the pickup truck and RV on the 'backroads to Jacksboro' for the opening scene photo. 
Once that was done, I cleared the decks and randomly arranged nine 1ft square urban tiles (cork with pdf print-outs stuck on both sides) and populated them with buildings, ensuring I had a residential structure on the central tile as the 'target location'.

The game played out as described in the previous post, and out of interest, I took the role of Rebecca, her folks and the National Guard to see what happened after Brad's group had escaped.
The remainder of the squad made it through the apartment doors just in time before the zombie horde closed in. With more being attracted by the engine noise it was only a matter of time before the entrance would be breached.
The trooper who was encountered in the building (I decided he'd been scouting ahead of the rest of his squad) quickly led them to the window facing the alley where he'd entered earlier.
With the walking dead hammering at the doors and windows at the front of the building, the guardsmen climbed out into the alley, taking up covering positions as Rebecca and her group followed hot on their heels.
Despite the soldiers warnings to keep it quiet, the group attracted the attention of the tail end of the horde still in the mouth of the alley - and newly arrived zeds were out on the street!
As the biters moved in, Rebecca saw the gap and pushed her brother-in-law forwards, yelling "Get the hell outa here!" as yet more zombies were attracted by the sound of gunfire and the National Guard, along with the rest of her kinfolk engaged in grisly hand to hand combat with their undead opponents (well, the ones that weren't simply caught and mauled!).

So, Rebecca got away, along with poor old Jon's brother Pete (who Rebecca always thought was the better looking of the two!!), and as for Lee? After I'd packed away the mini's and terrain, I sat down with a brew and considered the options.
Rebecca and Pete meet up with Lee on the outskirts of Jacksboro and find a safe-house to hunker down in for the night. They've got the car parked outside, Pete and Lee's handguns, but little else other than Rebecca's grudge against Brad and his group.

Pretty basic stuff, and of course any comments or suggestions are most welcome.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018


Day 14
Once the group had returned with their captive back at the farm, it was obvious that she was a liability, so once they’d created a “holding cell” and had her securely locked up for the night, a meeting was held to decide what they should do with her.
During the meeting, concerns were also voiced about their isolated position at the farm, especially if there were groups of hostile people like they'd just encountered at the cabin  - maybe even 'friends of the family' who might be out looking for revenge? After all, the boy had run off into the woods, and  where’d he gone? At this  Rebecca piped up from the other side of the door - "His name's Lee, an' if he's got any sense at all in that thick skull o'his, he'll be headin' to Jacksboro where we've got kin".
The decision was made to head off next day to Jacksboro, where they could drop off their captive, maybe get news about the state of the zombie outbreak,  and hopefully find a safer, less isolated place where they could see this thing through.
Brad spent the rest of the evening poring over his road map and weighing up the options. During the meeting, he hadn’t been keen on leaving the farm, but the argument had won him over and as he sat alone with his thoughts he became fully aware of just what COULD happen if they were attacked out here in the middle of nowhere!

Just before sunrise, they were loaded up and headed South along tracks and minor roads, only taking two vehicles to conserve fuel and avoid splitting the group too much. The back roads meant they didn't see any zombies or road blocks, but the rough terrain took its toll on the RV, breaking the passenger side rear suspension!
The encounter area of downtown Jacksboro. Rebecca's folks live in the brownstone apartment block so this should be pretty easy....
... especially since the convoy is almost right outside the front doors as it enters the table. But then again, a group of six people and two running engines have attracted the attention of 25 zombies!! The zeds won the first activation, but with a "6", only two of the PEF's moved.
The first PEF exits the general store and heads straight for the apartment block,
while the second leaves the laundry building and crosses the street behind the convenience store.
Travis eased out onto the junction to allow Brad to pull up outside the apartment, and spots the PEF, which resolved as 3 citizens. Rebecca's folks had obviously got themselves trapped in the store and were using the distraction caused by the group arriving to make a dash for home!
Seeing their intention, Travis throws a hard right lock and pulls forward and then reverses to be ready to block off the zombies if they attempt to follow the fleeing citizens.
Brad's unaware of why the pickup has suddenly made the  maneuver, but instinctively  reacts - ordering the girls out and heading straight for the doors while he tells Hannah to get to the truck, ending the turn.
Activation produced a double "6", so the day part advanced from 'Mornng' to 'Daytime'
The group lost the re-roll and Rebecca's folks charged round the corner and straight through the apartment doors, totally ignoring the group and not recognising their "kin" standing with the stranger!
The building encounter deck turned up a member of the military........
...... a member of the National Guard meets the extended Miller family inside the apartment block, while outside.........
....... the second PEF appears between the block and the convenience store, and resolves as four more members of the National Guard!
Obviously, theses five guys were part of a unit sent into Jacksboro to assist in the outbreak and had somehow got separated from the rest of their guys!

The third PEF exited McDooms burger joint onto the street and resolved as "a bad case of nerves", as the rest of the zeds (and were joined by five more attracted by the engine noise).
Rebecca pushed her way through the apartment doors to add her voice to the heated "Meet & Greet" taking place in the foyer, and was joined by the NCO in charge of the guys on the street......
...... who were nervously keeping tabs on the advancing zeds.
Travis reversed the pickup against the wall and "closed the gap", crushing the zombified waitress in the process!
Brad smelled trouble brewing and yelled to Hannah to get in the truck, then slid in alongside her - there was no telling what Rebecca would be stirring up in the apartment and the zeds were getting thicker than fleas on a blanket!
Yet another six zombies had been attracted to the engine noise (somehow no shots had been fired - so far!), and winning the activation roll for the first time, Brad told Travis to drive through the zeds and head out of town...
As they sped off past the nightclub, the relief of getting out of a dodgy looking situation was obviously tempered by the loss of the RV (and the supplies in it),
and they could only wonder if they'd done the right thing,
as the walking dead closed in on the apartment,
what do you think?

Well that certainly didn't go the way I'd expected, but as ever the ATZ:FFO rules produced yet another tense and enjoyable (if short) game, with plenty to think about for the campaign ahead.
I'd better get back to painting terrain, but after this encounter I won't be leaving it very long before finding out what the group are up to.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Hare and the Tortoise

This week's post just HAS to start off with a big shout out for the first rate service at "Col Bills" - in fact, if it wasn't for the superfast arrival of my recent order, there might not have been a post at all this week!
Things have been fairly hectic work-wise, and then to really eat into my available hobby time, my guitar effects unit went on the blink and I've had to spend hours fixing and servicing that. So much for my planned game! However, since the 4Ground "Fabled Realms Backstreet Hovel" arrived on Saturday thanks to the efforts of Colonel Bill's I thought it would be rude not to tackle it straight away!
These kits are a joy to build and come totally 'pre-coloured' including the interior detail.
I decided to omit the "high fantasy" curved ridge supplied, and simply capped the roof with a length of square section strip, which means I'm also re-painting the roof.

Another building I got at Christmas is the Timeline Miniatures "Market Hall". This has been occupying the bench and getting bits done whenever I've had the chance, and is just about table ready.
I had to be a little creative when it came to accessing the interior for gaming with this building. As you can see from the photo, it's a two story structure, but the kit hasn't been designed with the usual "horizontal split" between the ground and upper floor.
I'll be working on the interior next, so I'll show you the solution I came up with when I've done that. (What a tease eh?!)

So, I get the "Tortoise" award this week, while Col Bill's rapid response team take the "Hare" title for this brief offering.
I'm off to make sure the effects unit is in working condition for the weekend, (and dig out my old 'spare', just in case). Thanks for dropping in, and with a bit of luck, I'll have a game report for the next post!

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Let the old year out and the new one in!

Happy New Year!
2018 already, so what's in store for the year ahead here at TWA Towers? The scrying glass is playing up a bit, but it tells me that the "Witchfinder General" campaign will gear up with more rules trials, and the related English Civil War project is set to continue apace.
The ATZ campaign will see a reboot, as Brad, Hannah and the group decide what to do with their captive and reconsider their position at the farm.
On the fantasy gaming front, 'The Dark Conspiracy' Dragon Rampant/D&D campaign is to resurface and I haven't abandoned the sci-fi "Blade Runner" project either - it's simmering on one of the back rings while I continue adding the required ingredients.
This month "Brittania" starts on Sky Atlantic, and I've been looking forward to this since it was first advertised, but I fear it's going to be difficult to resist the urge for a bit of quasi-historical "ancients" action on the table top!

On a 'negative side' I'm unsure whether "Winter of '79" will continue, as it seems to have stalled after the scenic boards were badly damaged, and we were discussing the morals of  'gaming' scenarios which are perhaps more than a little unsavoury (kidnaps, hijackings and car bombs etc).
I'm considering getting rid of the figures and vehicles as part of my planned 'Operation Spring Clean', but just might hold on to them for some Cold War skirmish gaming.

Now, the main festivities may be over, but the trimmings are still up, so here's the second wave of my 'Yuletide Output'.....
The Timeline Miniatures church has had a bit of weathering applied to tone down the raw base colours.
I've also made a start on the rest of the mdf buildings that arrived in Santa's sack. Here's the TT Combat cottage (note the "wide doors" are obviously a feature not limited to their modern range of buildings!),
and here's the Timeline Miniatures cottages (semi detached, but I'm not sure the term had been invented in the 17th century).
None of the above have had any work done on their interiors yet, as I plan to get all the new buildings exteriors done first so they can be used asap for gaming, then revisit them to finish them off.
Finally, as a break from the terrain, I've managed to add another gun as a step towards raising two opposing ECW armies.
I hope everyone managed to welcome the New Year in fine style, and that 2018 proves to be happy, healthy, prosperous and productive for us all!