Monday, September 14, 2015

And some 28mm 7TV: Archer Vice

Three new minis from Hasslefree Miniatures - this might be my very first Hasslefree order. I've browsed the website, admired the figures, but over the years I've never had an application for Kev's sexy little figures. Until recently...

I'm very pleased with both the minis and the result. There was even some candy sweets enclosed in the packet, and an extra miniature included, as a consolation for having taken a bit longer than is usual for Hasslefree to dispatch - though it didn't seem it took that long to me. Still, free candy + miniature = morning win.

Minis are part of their "Mission Improbable"  line and painted to portray a certain well known secret agent, codename "Duchess" (Oh, she loved that dog...) and his on-again, off-again girlfriend.

Miniatures by Hasselfree

The animation is very nice (and while I did have to glue his right arm on, I'm getting used to it) and Kev has captured the look and character of the subjects. To obtain the series look, Agent Stirling's hair and trade-mark turtleneck were painted black and then dry-brushed with midnight blue and then a light gray-blue.

Agent Cain was painted to look tan-ish ("Well, what's the word. Lana? You freaked out when I called you a quadroon..."). I'm very pleased with the colour. Upon seeing the result, Megz commented "That is one hot little mini..." and I don't think she meant the dress.

Miniature by Hasselfree

As an added benefit, Hasslefree also sell Agent Jashun, the somewhat intoxicated version. I painted him holding a Glenfiddich bottle - if one is going to swill whiskey, swill one of the best brands.

I've statted both models for 7TV - I'm going to need to introduce a rule for being intoxicated (the miniature, not the gamer) and the effects thereof. Possibly an event card entitled "Stirling Shivered" that swaps drunken Shtirling for the sober one...

Thursday, September 10, 2015

More 7TV Space Madness

Nice long weekend saw some miniatures painted, for our first 7TV foray:

First is some backup for Dr. Lake - Brock Hampson: 50% Scottish, 50% Swedish, 50% Winnebago:

Miniatures from Reaper and Denizen

Miniature is from the Reaper Chronoscope line (50044: Frank Russo, Mercenary Hero). Nice mini - I wasn't mad about having to glue his right arm on, but I got over that. I also had some trouble with the orange-on-red dry brushing on the space suit - for some reason the tint kept darkening instead of lightening. I might try this miniature again, and give him a green-stuff mullet.

Second, playing the part of The Guru, is Roger Delgado's "Master" miniature, from the Black Tree 3rd Doctor Who line. Lovely miniature and captures a lot of the actor's/character's natural charisma.

Miniatures from Black Tree Designs and East Riding Miniatures

Last and most deadly is the Guru's young ward/executioner Kali, from the East Riding Miniatures Corporate Wars/Assassin line (JBA1).  Kali required a bit of modding, and the pistol she had been brandishing was cut away and an easy ivory blow-pipe added. I have a couple of addition ERM25 minis on hand for conversion to Sisters of Kali-style assassins.

Next up will be some additional 'rogue' agents for some added mayhem and variety...Ω

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


7TV and the world of Cult TV fascinates me, especially all of those wonderful TV shows I would watch as a kid (either from atop, or behind, the settee). Add to that a sprinkling of James Bondian-esque miniatures, and I was hooked on my first read-through.

Much to my delight, I realised I could put on a decent game with impressive scenery without having to break all that much new ground. I have a 28mm space station in storage, I have forces for the extras on both sides. All I needed was Melody Lake, Professor Kneale and Brock, er, Jock Hampson for the A.R.C. (Albion Rocket Consortium) side, and the Guru and Kali on the S.H.I.V.A. (Bad Guys) side.

One minor issue I had was ordering from Crooked Dice, as the "Guru", in his classic suit, was listed as Out of Stock. I understand they have recently had to move to new digs. That said, OOS does not help your business, as purchasers will go elsewhere for the product. Miniature gamers want what they want when they want it - based on current market models, only 20% of your customers are willing to wait.

Pictured here is my first painted mini for 7TV - Melody Lake in her scarlet space suit.  She is accompanied by her A.R.C. supporting  cast, also in space suits. Ms. Lake is a Denizen miniature (SF38) - she was already primed and waiting to be painted. The supporting lads from A.R.C.  were painted about 10 year's ago for a Traveller game - it's interesting to see how my painting style has improved (IMO) since then.

Denizen 25's are a breeze to paint. Time and funds permitting, I hope to purchase the Melody Lake from Crooked Dice, along with some other of their exceptional miniatures, in the not-too-distant future...Ω

Sunday, July 12, 2015

What Have I Been Up To?

Regular readers may have noticed another long absence, well, I'm back, and I'll share (guiltily) what I've been up to...

There's been quite the gap in posts lately, and it's entirely my fault - we haven't been able to link up with my friday group, and I've only been to one Mid-Week Wargame Wampage since January.

Not that I haven't been gaming - but, dirty secret, it's been online. After some 15 years of being online, I finally found my first MMORPG, and Megz has been sharing the madness.

For the stone-knives-and-bearskins fans amongst the readers, that acronym stand for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Play Game, and in this case, it's Star Trek Online (hereafter STO).

Character Screen - Note the Traveller reference name...

Yes, space-cadets, it's now possible to boldy split an infinitive, where no on has split, before  - online. STO is a combination of the Sims 2 meets FASA'a Star Trek Combat Simulator, all in the universe of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek.

Players may select Federation, Klingon or Romulan as their character.  There's also an "alien" sub division, which is allied to either Fed or Klingon. Also, the Romulans aren't exactly a full faction (locals call them a "fraction") since Cryptic Studios decided it would be easier to ally the higher ranked Romulan characters to either the Federation or Klingon Empire (to be clear, I think this was a bad, sloppy, lazy decision...)

Gotta love the "bad" guys

Your character progresses from a Cadet to a Fleet Admiral, over the course of play. Lower level missions are more reminiscent of the TV series - there are some negotiation missions, search party missions, patrol missions and such like.

That said, most missions, either ground-based or in space, are combat oriented. As you character gains rank and prestige, new venues will open: there's the planet Nukara - hot as hell where an environmental suit is all standing between you and fiery doom.  There is New Romulus, where the refugees from the Hobus Supernova are rebuilding their home.  There is Defera, which is being invaded by the Borg. There is Kobali Prime, under invasion from the Vaadwaur, and harbouring an unpleasant secret.

Marooned on a barren world...
In addition to these "Adventure Zones" there are the canon worlds of Vulcan and Andoria (which seem to have been forgotten by the developers at Cryptic) and Risa, the Resort World, where the Galaxy Relaxes (for a short time during the summer).

This game is not without its drawbacks - the social element is a trifle...awkward. If you thought miniature gamers had genetic social handicaps, just have a read thru a MMORG's user forum: after following a few threads, you might think you were reading an HMGS "Lets Move/Not Move Historicon Thread".

That said, there are some delightful people playing Online, with the advantage of being able to meet ad hoc, and with no boxes of miniatures, terrain, dice, measuring tapes to cart about. Players organise themselves into fleets, the STO equivalent of World of Warcraft guilds.  Fleets can be helpful resources, providing access to rare equipment and supplies, or they can be barren monuments to their founder's vanity.  Megz and I have been in both kinds.

Other hitches include a lack of Quality Control in the programming department - there are harmless bugs that are so old ("Talk to Loot Critter" springs to mind) that the current programmers seem to have no idea how to fix them. These aren't glaringly bad, but they serve as a pointer to a deeper issue...

Probably the greatest drawback - which some might label a "feature" - is how much TIME this game will burn. Many tasks have a 20-hour cycle (or "cool down") which encourages the player to log in daily.  At the higher levels, assigning Duty Officers, R &D, plus supporting the various "fronts" (Borg front, Tholian front, New Romulus, etc) can easily add up to an hour, and more if one wishes to play some tactical encounters.  Include making friends (most of the other characters are players - especially the ones running and jumping about like idiots) and one could easily spend four hours and up online.  It's happened to me.

After six months, the obsession is passing, and I find myself able to go back to working on miniatures, or work, or watch the news (bleah!) without wondering if that Level XIII Anti-proton bank my engineers are working on is finished...think I'll log in for a minute...

...nah!  I'll check in tomorrow.  I have miniatures to paint...

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ragnarok - Issue 60: Better Late then Never

The latest (and that's literally) issue of Ragnarok is now available as a pdf download.

Health issues on the part of the SFSWS secretary, Mike T, has delayed release by a year - I sincerely hope Mike is on the mend and enjoys a full recovery.

There are articles on gaming Judge Dredd, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and one for adding Triffids to your zombie games (I want an Eddie Izzard miniature...bang me gavel!)

Also, the full rules, stat cards and maps for the Stargunt II version of "Crystals from Dinom" written by yr. humble bloggist and included with Marc Miller's blessing!

Hie thee hence for details...Ω

Monday, June 15, 2015

StarGrunt II at NJ Con

As has been mentioned previously, NJ Con in Edison NJ is a great convention.  I ran two StarGrunt scenarios, both of which were designed for TravellerCon-USA.

Full write-ups of these can be found here and here - however, I'll post some recent pictures from NJ Con to keep current.

The SMS Mercs - Pinned atop the Dinom Corp HQ.
Crystals from Dinom - I had one player, John R, which is all the game needs if I take the opposing side. John did a fine job of getting the pinned-down mercs off the board.  I think it took him four turns, which is some kind of record.

John caught one of my squads in the middle of the street, shot them up with vehicle-mounted lasers, and proceeded to over run them.

Here comes the cavalry - 1300 HP worth
The miners brought out their mining vehicle (armed with a short range laser) and two prospecting "dune buggies" (armed with 50 caliber MGs) but were unable to make much of an impact on the Mercs APCs (I think we might have shot off one of the rear-vision mirrors)

And they're gone.

On Saturday, I was pleased to have John return for "Canned Vland". Once again, he had choice of sides whilst I would run opposite. He chose the Planetary Defense platoon and supporting ConFederation Marines.  I would run the Vilani.

Downtown Mikanek - Soosboro
Going by The Book, I sent my recon sleds forward, hoping to draw some anti-tank rocket fire, but John was not to be gulled, and as the recon went deeper, the armour had to follow.

Once at the barricades, the fire from the PDF intensified, pinning down the Imperial recon - John decided he could spare a few LAW rounds, and one hover scout went boom.  I think some of the crew got out, and you can see them sheltering in one of the nearby burning buildings.  Idiots.

As the plasma main guns of the tanks fired in support of the recon unit, building caught fire and the PDF SWAT team lost half it's numbers.

Finally, around turn 4, the first tank crossed the barrier, and the missiles began to fly in earnest. Fortunately (for my side - hurrah!) John had some pretty mediocre rolls, and couldn't score a major hit.  He logged enough minor hits to disable the lead tanks plenum chamber (or Bernoulli drive, or whatever) and the crew de-bussed in a panic and took shelter in a nearby burning building.  Idiots.

Buy the end of turn 5, it was obvious the Vilani would be unable to get their three remaining vehicles (2 tanks and a recon sled) off the enemy side in time (end of turn six).  The Terrans were declared the winners. Well done!

Post Convention Thoughts
Both games played well - a single player has a certain advantage vs a team, in that his moves are well coordinated. He loses something of a broader perspective, but in a skirmish game, focus is sometimes better.

In both games, we played to a clear result in just over two hours - a fast moving game is ALWAYS better.

By the way, if the reader noticed the barricades were different in this game, you win a cookie. I wasn't able to find the corner stock berms from previous games, so I used my Northwest Frontier sangars from my 25mm Colonial collection. These were made back in the late eighties using ornamental pebbles and craft glue, and they have served honourably ever since...Ω

Sunday, June 14, 2015

NJ Con - This IS Your Daddy's Miniature Convention

There are people who like large, noisy, sweaty, smelly conventions - 
I am not one of them.

And that's why I like NJ Con in Edison, NJ, where I've just spent two relaxing, enjoyable days. Plenty of parking, nice helpful staff, modest but interesting dealers room, and past time with good company. Nice convention site with room to grow.

NJ Con recaptures the simple fun of playing miniatures as was done in the Golden Age - there's really No School like Old School.

The NJ Expo Center is located at the end of a quiet business park, near the nexus of three major highways (NJ Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and I-287), making it easily accessible for drives from north, west and south. 

Minor downside - the convention center is about 1/2 a mile from the nearest hotel.  That's not much of a problem in my opinion. Another debatable downside is there was no integral catering, but there was a BBQ van with some very good hot sandwiches which was there from about 3:00 PM to about 8:00 PM.  And being Edison there are plenty of restaurants, some of which will not be Indian.  

NJ Con Vendors Room - photo courtesy John R.

(Edit 15 June): Thanks to John R., there are now pictures:

NJ Con Game room - photo courtesy John R.

For a touch of controversy, I understand there are those in HMGS who have dubbed NJ Con the "Anti-Historicon" - I find this difficult to credit.  The first NJ Con was run at Fort Dix in 2008 - well before the current Historicon move and unfortunate fallout.  With a full month (and attendant pay-cycles) between event dates NJ Con is not in direct competition with H-Con - it is, at best, a soft or indirect competitor.

That said, the success and inevitable growth of NJ Con does prove that there is life outside of HMGS for the miniature wargame hobby - something which the current HMGS leadership might not want to hear....Ω