All Quiet on the Cat Front

Yes, a long time no update.

I’ve piled up a huge backlog of gaming sessions, but due to my council work have not had time to edit, upload and post stuff.

I’ve also got a load of film reviews to do, so maybe, maybe this week I’l, start to post some more Content, because on a vibrant blog or web site Content is King.

Anyhow, I got home yesterday (Saturday) from a training course for my Council work (Planning & Consultation…yay) to find the above poster, and two screaming cats, one of whom had dashed out first thing and not even had breakfish so it seemed appropriate.

In addition, I have also received the obligatgory Court Orders from the US about the bankruptcy of Robot Peanut Studio which gave me a shcok when seeing the covering enevlopes (I might scan them later). They’ve gone bankrupt so all the excellent “All Quiet on the Martian Front” stuff is now OOP, and likely to remain that way until the courts dispose of the assets and IP. Which is a real shame as the product I received was very good quality.

Film: The Last Days on Mars

As well as the pile of crummy b/w westerns I bought, I also picked up this DVD: The Last Days on Mars. Never heard of it but took a punt on it.

Turns out it only had a limited cinematic outing and got so-so reviews.

Anyhow i watched it at the w/e, and again yesterday after recovering from my parents’ visit.

Its actually not bad. Its at the harder end of sci-fi, so Mars is still a hostile environment with all the attendant hazards of solar radiation and decompression. the actors therefore spend most of their time suited up, if not with helmets on. This means you do have to pay attention as to who is doing what, where and when

The premise is quite simple: The team of the first manned station on Mars (Tantalus station) is packing up ready to be relieved by a new team, and are keen to find something to make their mark in the history books. One of them does just that discovering what appears to be evidence of biological activity – and of course decides to revisit the site of the discovery at which point it all goes a bit pear shaped. More of which later with spoilers.

As I said the film is not bad, and is actually quite good. The downside I felt was the beginning sequence, where the 8 crew are introduced, along with the great discovery. This was IMHO rushed. the first time I watched it I lost track of the characters. It was on the second viewing that I appreciated that actually, the characters were well drawn, it was just the pacing was too quick. The character above (Kim) was a hard arse character, and should have got more time to be developed so that her (inevitable) betrayal was more punchy.

The rest of the film was better paced, if somewhat predictable, except for the final sequence where the relief team acted like dummies. The final scene though was unpredictable.

 

—SPOILERS—

As well as the over fast pacing, it is not shown why Dalby is so upset by Marko’s loss, nor why the team should try a night time rescue of a non-responsive crew member from a fissure without the right equipment – a few more torches might have helped a lot !

The mirco organism itself could have done with some more explanation – I’d have extended the scene where Kim find’s Marco’s records and expand on what sort of organism it was, with Kim speculating on how it survived, what it was and so on to build up the tension as to why they really didn’t want to mess with it.

Similarly, whilst the surviving team members were agog at how their ex-team mates, exposed to mars’ tenuous atmosphere were still up and going, we could have had a description (at least alluded to) of the damage to the human physiology of exposure to those conditions, again ramping up the tension.

Then there is the examination of the blood from the team leader, again some speculation could have been added as to how the organism was reprdoucing, what it was doing and how it was making the cadavers move.

Well those are three negative things, but I still think the films a good ‘un. Not the best but still good.

On the plus side, the slow spread of the effects of the organism were good, it wasn’t a sudden switch over. The team members as they succumbed to it played out nicely. The exception was Kim’s death which was not shown only assummed (sequel – More Days on Mars ?). The “killing” of lane was also good – not often to see the main protagonist bash someone’s brains out. 😉

The final fight sequence and aftermath were good. And the bleak ending was in keeping with the hard edged nature of the sci-fi in the film.

Lots of great ideas for sci-fi scenarios utilising all those space suited figures I’ve got. 🙂

This week’s challenge completed !

So I set myself the challenge at the end of last week, and have completed it today.

I’d actually finished off the MHC Shotgun section yesterday bar their moustaches, and the Lanchester bar the MHC markings. However, I had a community meeting to attend at 7pm, so had to rush my cooking/eating, and inevitably the meeting went on until 9pm and by the time I’d edited the documents it was way to late to finish things off and post them.

So here they are in their finest facial hirsuteness. Hopefully not too bland, without looking like a rainbow of colour out on the hunt. Having rooted round in my collection, I’ll now be looking for another 4 or so shotgun toting nutters for my bandit force that has also seen a lick of paint late yesterday whilst I was waiting for the washes to dry. Bitten by the AVBCW bug again, just as well as it will give me enough time to sort out loads of stuff for the September Big Game JP & I are planning.

Here’s the Lanchester. I’m glad I didn’t try and rush it yesterday. This morning I tried daubing it with the simple slogan “MHC” (Malvern Hills Conservators), but it looked like a ham fisted 5 year old with a 1′ brush had done it. So I dug out a sheet of transfers I did some time ago and used them. Of course that takes a lot longer as you have to wait for the various washes you apply to dry. As of course these are roundels about 1cm in diameter, trying to cut a perfect circle is impossible, and even touching the edges up with paint still leaves a far from perfect circle. The pictures are obviously larger than life, so on a wargaming table its ok. Its something I’ll have to work on though.

As mentioned I had also done a quick couple of Objective markers as well and these were finished off.

Some more simple objective markers for AQMF.

So a total of:

  • 10 Shotgun weilding LDV – as they are all unique, this is going to count for 15 points on the paint log.
  • 1 Lanchester A/C – 5 points
  • 6 Objective markers – 6 points.

Total so far this year painted: 411.

I’ve set my next Objective for the w/e already and started.

AVBCW: WIP for Friday’s games session

Byakhee JP & I are keen to carry on a narrative for Hereford, so we always write up some background fluff. We’d both spotted that there were several parishes undecided along the western flanks of the Malverns, so with my desire to get the MHC out to play, decided we’d game their take over of those parishes.

General background.

The fighting in the eastern parts of Herefordshire has concerned the Malvern Hills Conservators, whose land holdings extend into the county, and so far have not been proactively defended from the BUF, Anglicans and other assorted ne’er do wells. Therefore, Sir Jonathan Porridge has decided to send in his Wardens to clear the areas of their land and neighbouring areas of Mathon & Cradley Partishes. Ed (Ted) Ward-Glear has been chosen to lead this mission and firmly establish MHC (and Royal) control on these parishes and forestall any interlopers. Luckily, Ted has just taken ownership of a new lanchester Armoured Car refitted by the Morgan Motor Company and views this as the ideal opportunity to use its capabilities to see off any of the unwelcome factions. He has also arranged for a local force of landowners, gameskeepers and other hillsmen to support his Wardens. They come with a large amount of shotguns, ammunition, and enthusiasm…if not skill…

Scenario 1: Harcourt Road & Ham Green road junction

The Conservators attack down the Harcourt Road towards Ham Green.
The table should be set up with a Y road junction.
The Conservators attack down the single road and may deploy across their entire board edge
The defenders may deploy ONE unit at the junction, all other units come on on the two other roads
In order to win the Conservators must be in control of the road junction, with a unit of more than half strength after 6 turns or at an appropriate juncture.
And vice versa.

AVBCW MHC Shotguns 4

The shotgun unit is coming along nicely – washed and half of the highlighting done, I’ve called them Squire Charnley’s Hunting Party.

Scenario 2: Ham Green Hill

The Conservators need to capture the ridge following the battle at the road junction.
Divide the table into 4 quarters. One end is North.
Across the middle hills should be placed.
The south east quarter is covered in scribland. The rest is open farmland with hedges, stiles and gates.
No tanks or armoured cars may be used.
The Conservators are attacking from the East.
Each player takes it in turn to place units.
In order to win the Conservators must be in control of a majority of the hills, with a unit of more than half strength after 6 turns or at an appropriate juncture on each hill.
And vice versa.

AVBCW MHC Lanchester 3

The Lanchester should come in handy, awaiting another highlight layer and then a wash. I’d originally thought it’d only need one highlight, but the contrast isn’t big enough, so I didn’t finish it as planned today.

Scenario 3: Whippets Brook Bridge

Though only a small stream, the brook can often over flow and hence there are several bridges over it. This one near Cradley and Cowleigh is important.
The Conservators approach from the east, within 12″ the road.
The defenders may place a single unit on the bridge. All other units are placed on the table edge.
Each player takes it in turns to place a unit.
In order to win the Conservators must be in control of the bridge, with a unit of more than half strength after 6 turns or at an appropriate juncture.
And vice versa.

Given I’d been doing well with the figures, I diverted my attention to some objective markers.

AQMF Martian Objective Markers 1

Yes some more Critical Mass Games stuff for AQMF and Laserburn.

I also realised I had some spare barrels and crates loitering, so have based them up as objective markers for AVBCW, should have them done by tomorrow – a quick win.

Base(ing) Instincts & Emplacements

The new AQMF tank sprues come able to build the basic Mark II tanks and the larger Mark III tanks that have a bigger superstructure. Obviously theis leads to lots of redundant/spare parts. My brain cell had a brain wave on Saturday when I was building more tanks as to what to do with the spare parts.

I had already ditched a number of the spare parts, but had retained enough to make 5 turrets, four with cannon, one with an HMG as a “command” turret.

I remembered that the French and Germans in WW2 used dismembered tank turrets as static defenses.

So I chose a 60mm base to mount them on. These are by co-incidence the same size bases that I use to base support weapons (HMGs/Mortars) on for my AVBCW and BoB units.

I’d started off a few years ago using the old GW bases that their WH40K heavy weapon teams came on, but they phased these out. So I did some scratching around on evil-bay for them, but they are few and far between.

In this picture, the top left one if a GF9 60mm base that is magnetic, I picked it up in a store in Cardiff, but its heavy, expensive and as you can see twice as thick as the GW 60mm that is lower right (upside down with the circular pits).

Doing a quick search, I found a new company called Hurlbat that now do 60mm bases as cheap as chips. their only downside is that they are “shiney”, and have no surface texture so you need to spray them before trying to paint them with a brush and normal paint.

By using this regular size of base for support weapons I can use my CD scenery bases and design some so that you can place the support weapon actually in the cover, rather than balance the weapon and crew rather inelegantly on top of the scenery.

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The turrets mounted on the bases, just the right size !

the turrets painted up easily. Same as the tank:

  • black undercoat;
  • Foundry Moss Shade;
  • GW Camoshade wash
  • GW Leadbelcher silver;
  • GW Nuln Oil black wash.

Now I have a static line defence to use in AQMF.

Obviously with a little bit of imagination similar bunkers and scenery pieces can be made – loading bays for instance – camouflaged redoubts and so on. Therte are some rules for fortifications in the rule book so I’ll be offf working out what these items really represent.

AQMF: Our third game

Yes, the system is fast enough, and our games small and simple enough to do a third game (we played 11am to 6pm including time for pawing with trembly hands [mine] of the hard back book, and pawing of the miniatures [Richard’s]).

First up we expanded the table. The h/back book suggests a 6×4′ table, whereas we’d been using a 4×4′ table for the first two games. It also allowed me to get out the two storey pyramid to help bulk out the Martain style scenery. (NB: Despite washing the resin before spraying, the spray paint didn’t adhere all over so its a bit scrappy – WIP)

By now we had all 4 tripods ready to go, and all the tanks.

So I gathered the 3 Assault tripods in the centre to move in and defend the pyramids (of Mars), with the Scout out on the flank to deal with the blips which could be human infantry.

Richard deployed 6 Mark II tanks on his right flank, and three Mark III tanks in the centre, surrounded by a cloud of blips.

For pretty much the only time in the entire game, I won initiative and pushed forward.

Unfortunately, this meant they were in range of a heck of a lot of tank guns ! The tripod went down fairly quickly. And then a second one fell in the first turn !

It was only the Scout that had any luck in the game, flushing out BEF troops who ran aay before I zapped them.

the third Assault tripod went down, leaving the Scout on it’s ownsome…

…for two rounds dodging in and out of cover, but it was another loss for the Martians.

So conclusions:

  • The Martians are vastly outnumbered. Loss of two Tripods so early in the game pretty much decided it.
  • Winning Initiative is very important.
  • As per the earlier games, mass targetting of single Tripods is the way to take them down.
  • However, even the Scout Tripod can clear out nests of HMGs and Infantry relatively easily – they also move FAST.

AQMF: Our second game

Byakhee Rich re-zaranged (slightly) the table. I’d done up two more red weed bases, and also the Critical Mass Games Kommados building had dried. So we had a very martian feel to the centre of the board. We also chose more forces, and I’d assembled (as a demo) some more tanks for Richard.

We also started to sue the advanced rules on stealth units – human infantry, so we broke open marker packs.

The Mark III Baldwin tanks remianed assembled but unpainted at this point in the game ! 😀

The Tripods advanced into the centre of the table.

The Scout Tripod on the right flank advanced toward a blip that turned out to be BEF infantry, that through a series of good dice rolls shot at and destroyed the scout. The scoput duely exploded and wiped out the BEF as well as itself. This was yet another example of Richard’s lucky rolls, and not the last…

I’d followed the Scout up, with a regular Assault Tripod, and guess what, it to got destroyed with Ricrad rolling a 10 on the tripod damage chart. This time he got lucky as none oif the tanks were taken out.

Another Tripod was damaged and couldn’t move.

A Tank’s eye view showed the tulip of love above a Tripod ! 😀

It wasn’t reciprocated as the Infantry were wiped out.

That said, the last tripod goes down fighting near the red weed and Martian Pyramid.

The humans won the battle through luck with rolling 10’ds on the damage chart for Tripods and my bad luck on damaging them.

Still it was all fun and it lasted about 1.5 hours for 750 points or so. A very fun game with quick but very good mechanics.