Wednesday, 28 March 2018

The Search For Sin - part one

I remember Harrison and Ford had started working this case while it was still hot, but the chief just dropped this case file on my desk!

 Chief Bryant with agents Harrison and Ford

From the notes, Cindy was an 'entertainment model' Nexus-6 replicant, working the bar and dancing for the space jockeys on an orbital freight transfer station. Somehow, she ended up hiding away on an inbound shuttle. killing a freight handler and security guard at the shuttle terminus when she broke out of the hold.
"Sin" then went on to murder two armed police officers who responded to the call-out before she disappeared into the sprawl. Jeez, this is one cross-wired skin job!

 CCTV image of Sin just before she shot both cops
H and Ernie had burned 5% of the case budget and worn down some shoe leather going around interviewing possible witnesses for clues, but came up empty handed before being reassigned. Now, it looks like some grass downtown is willing to sell some information and Bryant has re-open the case. Problem is, the snitch will only meet on his patch - great! This district is decidedly "unfriendly" to law enforcement officers and getting spotted on the streets could spark a riot.

The informant has arranged to meet by the corner of the Metropole Hotel and starts the game close to the middle of the board, in base contact with one 'crowd',

and another two crowd markers are placed within 12 inches of the informant.

The rules recommend making "Crowd Markers" on circular bases, but I decided to simply glue the groups of individual bases together. I think this gives a more random look to the 'crowd' and I made sure that the groups will also fit together to form larger mobs.

I took a cab as far as the driver was prepared to go into the sprawl, and then entered the meeting area at a casual stroll, keeping my distance from the nearest crowds and keeping an eye on my contact.

If my character ends up within 6 inches of a hostile crowd I have to roll on an event table, where there's only a slim chance that things DON'T get very ugly, very quickly, so I decide he'll play it cool but he still needs to get to the snitch before the would-be-informant has the chance to get cold feet and do a runner!

With a crowd making its way in my direction on my side of the street, I headed across the road and cautiously followed the nearest group.

Fudge 1: I couldn't find any ruling on crowd normal movement. It seemed wrong to have them just standing still, so I had them move at 1/2 speed (3") towards a random board edge. If they exited the board, they would re-appear (as a 'new' crowd) at a random entry point.
Fudge 2: If a crowd reaches a junction, they dice for which direction to take.

I managed to reach an alley where I could keep watch on the snitch and the crowds, and was thankful for the bolt-hole it offered - with another crowd making its way up the opposite street, I was starting to question my decision not to bring any back-up!

The campaign is played as a series of missions as the agents attempt to gather evidence from "Persons Of Interest" and "Minor Suspects", so they can attempt to tackle the "Major Suspect".

However, there's a set budget for the case, and if this reaches zero before the final mission is successfully completed, you're thrown off the case and you've lost the campaign.
I could have spent some of my budget on various things (including police back-up or a buddy agent) before the game started, but decided to keep costs down at this early stage of the campaign - it's going to cost 5% of my budget to pay the informant!

The approaching crowd took a right turn at the T section, and I had a clear gap to approach the grass over by the hotel,

I seized my chance and began strolling across the road junction directly towards my informant - my stomach tightened as I wondered what he would do as I got closer?

As soon as my character gets within 3 inches of the snitch, I have to roll on an event table - will he 'bottle it' and run, get cold feet and clam up or worse?

I'm relieved to find he's ready to talk when I reach him. He wants the money, and I want the info - and we both want to get business done as quickly as possible!

My character had to carry out a "Process Evidence" skill action at this point, 1 or 2 goals = 1 piece of evidence, 3 or more goals = 2 pieces of evidence.
The 'goal system' used in the rules simply means that the better your character is at something (Attributes, Skills and Traits), the more D6 he has in that specific 'pool' to roll against the difficulty level (the "Target Number") of the task, with scores of 4+ each counting as a success.

He made good on the deal, and had a couple of useful bits of evidence, but time was running out (for both of us) as fresh crowds were approaching from both ends of the street - we decided to slip off down the side street.

As I explained earlier, if the crowd 'spots' the agent his cover is blown - but if the grass is spotted talking to him, they're both in trouble!

Too late! We'd been spotted and the cry had gone up, which told us that ALL of the crowds were hot on our heels!

Fudge 3: The nearest crowd got within 6 inches of the agent and the result of the event table roll was "Riot Incited". Detailed instructions for that crowd marker's actions are given in the rules, but what about the others?
Again it didn't seem 'right' to me that they'd just stand there if this was meant to be a "hostile area", so I had them react since they were 'in sight'.

The mob had started running while we'd slipped out of sight around the corner, as they appeared at the T junction, we sprinted off into the warren of back alleys.
I yelled at my informant to follow me to the nearest cop station, but he declined my gentlemanly offer (in a decidedly UN-gentlemanly manner!) and ran off in a different direction.

Part of the mission brief was that I had to ensure the snitch's safety, getting him off the board fulfilled that obligation, but if he'd come into the station, I could have tried to get more information from him under interrogation - fair enough, since he might have tried to "sell" me more info for an extra slice of my budget if the dice had rolled differently when I checked his reaction on our initial meeting!

The financial evidence my contact had given me proved beyond doubt that "Sin" hadn't just run away from a crappy job and gone to ground, and there was a lot more to this skin job than we first assumed.
I'll have to get this report written up tonight, and have a word with Bryant in the morning.

All-in-all I'm quite pleased with "The Department" rules after this first run through. There's some really clever mechanics yet to be showcased (I especially like the fabricant's "sub routines" which determine how they'll act / react in given situations), and while the above AAR might have been lacking in 'action', it was still engrossing and quite tense to play, and captured the atmosphere of the genre.
My only complaint at this stage is that there's no detailed appendix, so finding specific rules is a pain in the arse bit of a bind.

I'm off to join my character Hank for a drink in his office, so for now, thanks very much for reading, and as ever your comments, questions or suggestions will be most welcome

Friday, 23 March 2018

It's Good To Be Back!

The forced abstention from gaming, along with precious little painting, has left me champing at the bit to 'feed the habit' - almost all of the 'distractions' went according to plan, but the plumber turned up last Friday afternoon and never waved a spanner in anger ........... hence my longer than expected absence! He took one look at the old boiler (no, not the wife - the heating appliance!) and decided he needed a different flue to the one he'd brought along in the van, so although I was hoping to get my gaming space restored a WEEK ago ahead of the upcoming gigs, I've had to wait until this week for the plumbers return!

All done now though, and this is by way of a 'restart post', since I'm a bit worried that I might previously have done the wrong thing by just posting the 'happy snaps' of me collecting my birthday 'swag', and I thought I'd better do a quick reveal to prevent the suspense leading to a complete anticlimax!

First off, the major items on my wishlist were all due to a batrep by fellow blogger John (Vagabond) on his excellent blog here -
So, a big "Thank You" is in order for setting me off on yet another new project (but old passion), and prompting the visit to Nottingham with my good lady in tow, and armed with a "10% off when you visit us in store" voucher from a previous mail order purchase at Warlord Games.

To get take best advantage of the discount, I picked up the Test Of Honour starter set which entitled me to the free Geisha Spy mini, plus the Bandits and Ronin boxed sets. The extra dice and cards will be useful to expand the game, and the very nice "Giants In Miniature", Oda Nobunaga was from over at Northstar Miniatures to complete the 'project swag' - though I also picked up a few mini's intended for the Witchfinder General campaign while I was there! 

The painting table hasn't been very busy - I've either been 'otherwise engaged' or just too knackered tired after a pretty busy time work-wise involving long distances and late nights (I'm definitely too old to rock'n'roll!), but all things considered after the recent flurry of activity with the ECW armies, I'm quite happy to have at least achieved a steady output (and prevented inertia setting in).

Here's the two C-in-C bases I need for Victory Without Quarter, and an extra stand of pike which will allow the red coated unit to be fielded for both VWQ and Pikemans Lament.........

and another Bladerunner operative out on his first assignment, interviewing some, err, 'working girls' down in the Lotus Sector.

That's all for this post, but now I've reclaimed my gaming space, watch out for some upcoming game reports (at last!!!)

Friday, 9 March 2018

A Short Intermission

A combination of traveling for upcoming gigs and Mother's Day (the financial dictator's mum lives up in Yorkshire), plus a friend of said dictator's coming over to stay for a couple of days, and then having to clear my 'games room' so that a plumber can fit a replacement combi boiler at the back end of next week sadly means there'll be a short lull as far as new posts go here on the blog.

Before the forced break, I'd like to say thank you for the birthday wishes, and I had a smashing day which included a trip over to a car park over in Nottingham.

Not just any old car park mind you. At this one a walk over to the top corner resulted in me walking away with the main parts of my birthday present,
followed by a stroll down to the opposite corner to pick up the rest.
Yep, I've been totally spoiled this year, but you're just going to have to wait to find out what's in the bag, blisters and boxes.

Living so close (and having visited Games Workshop several times), I can't believe it's taken me this long to get over to Warlord and North Star - I reckon visits to Mantic and Sarissa Precision will now have to be arranged, especially as they're even closer to home!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

ECW Target Date Review

Time for a "stock take" on the ECW mini's I've been wading through since November last year.
I'd set myself the ambitious goal of two playable 'armies' for use with Victory Without Quarter by the end of February (well actually my birthday at the end of the first week of March but let's not split hairs), and I'm pleased to say I've managed it!
There's been some compromises along the way, as well as a fair amount of midnight oil burned, but here's the evidence that enthusiasm can compensate for lack of talent (to a degree!!)

The complete muster,
I've included a 'baggage train' that will see service across all of the 17thC games. The wagons are removable from their bases to also act as terrain pieces / objectives etc.
The rest of the tally comprises:
Four Regiments of Foote - each 6 pike and twelve shot
One unit of Commanded Shot - 12 'Forlorn Hope' shot
Two squadrons of Dragoons - mounted and dismounted, each of 6 Dragoons plus dismounts
Nine squadrons of Horse - 7 squadrons of 6 'arquebusiers' and 2 squadrons of 'cuirassiers'
Artillery Trayne - 2 heavy and 1 light gun and crews
Two (temporary) C-in-C's - these 2 single figures will become 'Brigadiers', the multi based C-in-C's are currently on the painting table.

One of the (several) appeals the Victory Without Quarter rule have, is that there are no points values or army lists, so the rules work perfectly for any style of game or campaign you wish to play.
Obviously, these units have been assembled specifically for "mass battles", but while working on them, I took into consideration the 'Pikeman's Lament' small battle / large skirmish rules I intend using (they share mechanics with the 'Dragon Rampant' rules I'm familiar and happy with), so I simply painted up this stand of 6 pikes which can be added to the 'green regiment' above,
then combine the two 'blue units' of pike, remove all the 'subordinate' (those without officers and cornets) squadrons of horse, and finally take away the 'red regiment' pike to leave the muskets as Commanded Shot. and...........
......... I have enough units to pick various combinations of "companies" to begin playing The Pikeman's Lament!

In a surprising display of forward thinking, I also based a few of the mounted figures on single bases - there's no requirement to do this for either Victory Without Quarter, or Pikeman's Lament, but these guys will fit in OK for Witchfinder General skirmish games.

All of the bases are simply covered in a homebrew green texture paint, and I'll revisit them once I've made a final decision on just how I want them to look, and how to achieve it!

I intend adding to the collection over time, to increase the options of choice of troop types and army composition (as well as adding "local" regiments for the campaign), but from this starting point there's no rush and I'll do it without the pressure of a target date!

Apologies for the poor photography and the fact it's a bit of a boring post, but I wanted to mark the occasion and sadly it's been done while suffering 'sleep deprevation' - the key snapped off  in the ignition while we were up in Bradford last night. The RAC were called out at 10:30 and made arrived with a first response (a recovery wagon too small for the job and no tools!) at 03:30. He called for a larger recovery wagon (still no tools) which arrived at 0840 and dropped us off at our local garage just after 10am. A taxi got us home just before lunch and then we were on 'hot standby' to go back to collect the van as soon as repairs were completed so I could get it home and unloaded.
I've spent a little time googling the alternatives out there in advance of our RAC membership expiring!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

East of Jacksboro part 3

Continuing from the previous two posts.........

The strain on the door was finally too much, and the frame splintered as it gave way allowing three zombies to lurch into the room.  The group's hastily formed firing line was ready for them!

At the same moment at the front of the house, the two walking dead had gone straight for the cops and were frantically tearing at the hedge to try and reach their prey.

The bedroom erupted with the sound of gunfire as soon as Brad yelled the order to fire, and moments later the zeds had disappeared behind a cloud of gunsmoke

Distracted by the sound of the firefight from the house, one of the cops fluffed his shot and one of the zombies managed to make it around the hedgerow,
but was quickly knocked to the ground by a hefty smack with the shotgun butt, as another of the slavering monstrosities that had been attracted to the scene approached up the side of the road.

As soon as the officer had "popped the weasel", the two of them took up positions to face the new threat.

Things had gone quiet at the house, and the cops were unaware that Brad was now leading the group out to their assistance. They left via the gaping back door, not losing any time removing the temporary barricade at the front door.
(What's Hannah spotted?)

Both cops targeted the single blood thirsty zed, and it fell to their combined shots,
but the cops were dismayed to hear the frustrated groans of two more zombies trying to get at them through the hedge after they'd appeared from beyond the side of the house.
"Not more of 'em!" was the only comment as both officers wearily checked their firearms and prepared to deal with the new threat,
they were then somewhat surprised when Brad cautiously stepped into view by the corner of the house with his hands raised and calling out for them to hold their fire.
The cops were switched on enough to know what Brad intended to do, and began hollering and throwing taunts at the zombies to hold their attention - Brad followed  their queue and led the fella's straight to the unsuspecting rear of the zeds!
(To quote a recent post from Simon, "It's Clobberin' Time!")
Hefting his machete in a two handed grip, Brad split the skull of the zed in red. No sooner had the lifeless corpse collapsed into the hedge bottom, Travis swung his 'axe' at the second walker, but was evenly matched by his opponent, so Zac waded in with the butt of his assault rifle, only to be knocked down by the flailing zed! Luckily Nate had gathered his wits and pistol whipped the zombie about the head with his BAP, knocking it straight out of the fight to the ground where it twitched and died.

For a few seconds, everyone was just rooted to the spot, not saying a word as the adrenaline levels started to plummet. The silence was broken when one of the cops spoke
"OK, who's going to tell me just what you're doing here in the Johnson's place?"
Then the other cut in
"Is that you Amy? What are you doing here? How come you didn't leave with the rest of the folks in the neighborhood?"
Seeing the inquisitive looks on the faces of the group, Amy explained that a group of families had organized an evacuation convoy heading west,  to someplace in California, where there was talk about some kind of safe place or haven. They'd been told what to pack, where they'd be picked up and at what time, but she had to wait for her Pa - he's the local Doctor and he'd gone into town to stock up on medical supplies to take on the trip!
At that point she began sobbing uncontrollably  (possibly because of the protracted pun) and was comforted by Hannah. The cops looked at each other with a pained expression on their faces before one of them asked
"Who's in charge here?"

Brad told the others to go and rest up in the house and made his way around the hedge to speak to the officers,
Rep5  Pep4  Sav3  "logical"
Rep4  Pep3  Sav2  "dim"

At this point (Turn 20 would you believe?!), the action phase of the encounter has concluded, and I've decided to include Brad's negotiations with the police as part of the post-game 'admin'.  Of course this means the tale is
to be continued.

Oh look - no painted ECW cavalry this post!!

Thursday, 1 March 2018

East Of Jacksboro Continued

Continuing from the previous post, Brad has entered the bedroom as he's going through the house looking the access to the attic - intending 'taking the high ground' if he can find and open it.
(I decided to use the "Risks and Rewards" deck again, since he had no idea just what (or who) might be behind the closed door)
His search was interrupted as he came face-to face with one of the original occupants of the house who'd obviously been bitten.
Narrowly avoiding being surprised by the zombie, Brad yelled a warning as he stepped forward and felled the creature with his machette.
The blow had only knocked the zombie to the floor, but Travis entered to help deliver the killing blow, just as Zac opened fire on the group of zeds attempting to break through the barricaded rear door. (The white dice show the zombies attempts to reduce the Defence Value of the barricades, the glass rear door is weaker than the solid front entrance, so Zac and Nate decided to try and keep down the numbers able to attempt breaking through - unfortunately Nate went Out Of Ammo, Zac failed to hit, and the shot attracted another zombie!)

The door to the bathroom was open, and Brad could see the shapes of the zombies crowded outside the front door through the frosted glass. Zac and Nate were keeping up a steady rate of fire and slowing down the zeds in their attempts to break into the house, but Hannah and Amy had no line of sight to do the same at the front, so he and Travis started taking aimed shots through the glass.
Fortunately, the sustained fire over several minutes only attracted one more of the walking dead.

Brad and Travis were increasing the bodycount on the front porch and stopping the zeds breaking through,  but at the back of the house, with a sickening crash the rear door and its barricade gave way!

Zac, Nate and the girls managed to get to the bedroom before the zombies shuffled through the shattered door, and Hannah went straight through to the bathroom to alert Brad and her brother,

just as a patrol responded to the gunfire. (It's 'Day 15' so they arrived 1/D6 + 1D6 turns after the first shot - 4 turns later). One of the officers checked out the pickup as the pair assessed the situation,
before opening fire on the undead crowding the front porch of the "Twain property" - knocking down three of them and attracting the attention of the fourth, which shambled hungrily towards them.

The two cops hadn't noticed Brad's group members behind the bunched crowd of zombies, and  before he could shout out, he saw the pistol and shotgun snatched up into the aim - he instinctively turned, grabbed Hannah and Travis and bundled them out through the bathroom door, kicking it closed behind him as the shots rang out!

Quickly reassessing the situation, Brad released his grip on Hannah and Travis, sending them to keep a lookout through the bedroom windows and made sure everyone else was OK.

Outside, the shotgun at point blank range over the hedge caused the hungry zombie to 'lose its head', but the knocked down group rose to their feet and were joined by another zed attracted by the gunfire to keep the cops busy,
while inside, the zeds were threatening to break through the bedroom door at any moment,
and Brad had the guys drag the bed over to create an obstacle which would hopefully give his hastily organised 'firing line' a killing zone when they did come through the doorway!

To be continued.................................

Right on target for the end of February, I'm delighted to be adding adding another cavalry unit to the ECW project in the shape of Haselrig's "Lobsters".
The iconic cuirassiers were a cinch to knock out in a hurry thanks to their (rather antiquated for the period) plate mail armour!

Thanks for visiting, and as ever, your comments and queries are more than welcome