AQM: All Quiet on the Martian Front – Kickstarter

The postie arrived today with a large box from Renadra that I didn’t remember ordering.

Turns out its the “All Quiet on the Martian Front” kickstarter stuff that I subscribed to 12-18 months ago. A great big pile of plastic kits and some metal infantry. I’d assumed it’d all be coming from the rebel colonies – looks like they took advantage of UK plastic manufacturers.

So a basic summary of All Quiet on the Martian Front:

  • H.G. Wells’ War of the worlds happened;
  • The Martians having been defeated by the British, have regrouped and come back again;
  • The main invasion is the rebel colonies (USA);
  • The British have reverse engineered the Martians’ technologies;
  • The rebel colonists (Americans) have put their industrial scale factories to work;
  • Using the Lease-Lend British technologies;
  • But the Martians have a few new devices up their, err, tentacles !
  • So a major battle is happening in North America.

Byakhee Rich conned me into this new shiney stuff. I rationalised that as it was 15-18mm scale I could use some or all of it for my existing Laserburn stuff.

I’ve long been into H.G.Wells’ War of the Worlds, having listened to Jeff Wayne’s musical that my father had borrowed from a work colleague when I was about seven.

Unloading the box, not all of the kick starter components are in there, but that is not a problem, what is there is highlighted on the shipping note. And as you can see BlackJack is diligently checking the contents.

A slightly louder review is here, so I won’t repeat a lot of the stuff he has to say:

The other positives of this, is that they have designed it to be used with HO/OO scale buildings and scenery, and as my father is a railway modeller I grew up with many such buildings, in particular the SuperQuick buildings. This would make the scenery cheap and cheerful – as scenery boy I could nothing other than provide the scenery !

My initial response is very positive. The kits and figures are very well produced. The cut down rule book looks really well produced and an initial read through makes sense. D10s are used throughout – a growing trend in wargames I note as we break free of the old d6 paradigm.

Two downsides:

  • You really need the main rule book. I didn’t opt for this and its my fault. I have now pre-ordered it, but if you want the full force composition (army lists) and scenarios then you need to get the full rule book;
  • The Kits need detailed build instructions. That’s a slip up by Alien Dungeon. A pile of plastic sprues is great, and many can be put together with intuition by experienced modellers. It would have been much more helpful to have had instructions though. Many such exist in particular on their own forums such as here.

Right I’m now off to listen to somemusic and start to build some kits !

Film: Riddick – Rule the Dark

I finally got this at the w/e and watched it, it’s the third installment in the Riddick franchse. I watched Pitch Black and thoroughly enjoyed it. the second film, The Chronicles of Riddick was less enjoyable. It was packed with great ideas, but was really two films/concepts boiled down into one and both stories ultimately lost some of their potency.

riddick-slice1

This film was an indepoendent release and returns to the Pitch Black approach, a bit too closely, but is saved from a straight retread for a couple of reasons.

Riddick’ tiring of the Necromungers that he ended up leading at the end of Chronicles. So he cuts a deal with Vaako (Karl Urban’s character), but Vaako’s sidekick double crosses both of them and Riddick is left for dead on an un-named desert planet. Obviously Riddick isn’t about to give up. Cue various deadly interactions with the local wildlife, which start to become boring. Riddick rescues a local Jackal like pup and raises it, before finding a deserted Merc (mercenary) base whose rescue beacon he triggers.

riddick-jordi-molla-katee-sackhoff-david-bautista-600x251

This is where it gets interesting. Two mercenary gangs arrive to claim the bounty on Riddick’s head. One is lead by hot headed Santanna who arrives first and makes some rather “brave” claims about his intentions WRT Riddick. The second band of mercenaries, is lead by Boss Johns, the father of the merc Johns that Riddick killed in Pitch Black. These guys are rather more professional, and include Dahl (Katie Sackhoff) as a competent ruthless sidekick.

Though the overall pot of the film is a bit of a re-hash of Pitch Black in terms of alien predators besieging the humans (also in the dark with rain), the interaction between the two mercenary ganags and Riddick saves the day. Their different approaches and outlook are well done. The “jet bikes” are also a novel concept (not land speeders) along with the power nodes being incompatible.

It would make for an excellent Laserburn scenario with two highly different sets of mercenaries pitted against a real (anti-) Hero character. Again worth getting is its about £5 or £7 cheap.

PS: There is a Directors cut with an additional secne at the end involving the Necromungers.
PPS: There are very few images for this film on the ‘net, and no decent trailers without advertisement breaks.

Laserburn: The Weapons Factory

We played the scenario I’d written up: The Weapons Factory.

We built gangs of about 5,000 points and each fielded about 10 men each.

The table, as set up, with the factory in the middle.

We start deployment…

Rich deploys his troops including a sniper on the roof of the building.

I waste three recruits out on the far flank, who made little contribution until they got KO’d in an explosion later…

Feline supervision is needed, apparently !

Turn 2 and the first casualty – Rich’s sniper gets a head shot to my guy Lance – after Lance Henrikson one of only two actors to have been killed by an Alien, Predator, and Terminator.

A firefight ensued across the central open area. My guys caused a fair amount of damage to Rich’s team as I had a heavy bolter and my leader involved, so Rich started lobbing smoke grenades, which we improvised by using cotton wool balls stuck to paper templates.

Rich sent forth his minions.

They got Tobbac’A, before one got killed outright (standing in the open).

But this was evened up, when Rich fired on the dangerous materials loaded onto a truck, that blew up and KO’d my 3 flanking guys.

More smoke grenades were deployed, as after looting the weapons factory, Rich conceeded the game.

He got the weapons, I got the glory (experience points).

A good game and complaimnts about the layout of the rule book aside its still a nifty game that is enjoyable.

Further feline supervision was needed !

More photos are here

Laserburn: Aftermath

Byakhee Rich & I played a game of Laserburn today (Weapons Factory), here’s some thoughts:

  • How do we play this game again ? (After 6 months)
  • Even after 30 years of playing them of and on, its still difficult to follow the rules. They’re all in the rule book but just not in a logical or sensible order – they need editing.
  • Setting up gang rosters – we forgot to amend Initiative stats for the weapons and armour
  • Initiative, surprising how big an effect the modifiers had
  • Game was dominated by the three guys who had a chance to hit anything (it would have been four, but he got shot in the face in the second round)
  • Anybody of regular skill level with an inaccurate weapon can’t hit a barn door at 5 paces (cruel)
  • This affects tactics – I certainly wasted three guys who were flanking for most of the game and had little input
  • Cover isn’t much use
  • You’re harder to hit moving at walking pace
  • Move, shoot, move (into cover) is a good option
  • Out of sight is the best option (How not to be seen)
  • Being in the open is a death sentence, being out of sight is best because then you can’t be shot !
  • Take a chance (on me) and do the reaction roll (Rich got lucky on that many times…but when it really counted !)
  • Duckback ! Where the hell is that in the rules ? Turns out it is on p10, but we couldn’t find it when playing Grrr
  • Left leg – the most common location for being hit
  • Laserrs vs Armour = no damage
  • Morale & Unit coherence, applied by the players not the rules, maybe they need to be beefed up
  • Along with the deployment rules these are all missing because it is more like an adjunct to a RPG as opposed to a wargames system.

Next up, some photos of the game. 🙂

(Now editted for the typos, and a new link added)

Laserburn: Scenarios & Deployment rules

I’ve written up two scenarios Byakhee Rich & I will play tomorrow. I’ll trawl the records and brain cell to add some more as there seem to be very few Laserburn scenarios written up.

One thing that struck me when writing them up and reading the Laserburn rule book was the complete absence of deployment rules. Its totally up to the umpire to decide when designing the scenario – but what happens when there is no umpire ? Who chooses sides ? Who sets up first ? In what order ? How far in ? etc. Now having played different rules sets and different scenarios there are any number of options.

Some ideas for deployment rules:

  • Dice to choose side of table
  • Dice to choose deployment zone(s)
  • Play out the scouting rules as per Chain of Command
  • Hidden movement
  • Scouts & Vanguard movement (WHFB)
  • Place units alternately
  • Place all units in one go
  • Place units in an Initiative determined order (high first or low first)

It got me thinking as to how these rules would affect the way scenarios are run and how the balance of gamesmanship would change. If one side places all its units first, that could give the other side an unfair advantage (advanced intel). This is something that hasn’t come up in AVBCW yet where we simply all pile in all at the same time. Is this better or worse ? On what terms ? In terms of the chaos of war ? In terms of fairness ? Or does it disrespect advanced intel and hence undermine military prowess ? How far do you go when designing a scenario to favour one side or the other ?

I’ve longed to write up some inter war rules sets, and indeed to expand the Laserburn rules so if you have any ideas, chuck them in to the comments. I want to break out of the IGUGO rules and fixed deployment zones and get a really fluid battle going.

Thanks !

Dredd

I got the latest Judge Dredd film on DVD starring Karl Urban. Not an actor I can say I am a fan of. Except in this film he came out very well.

Having never really got into Judge Dredd, but having read a fair amount whilst delivering newspapers, I knew Dredd was the monosyllabic quasi-fascist law giver in Mega-City 1. I’d seen the Stallone version in the 90’s and been unimpressed.  This version of Dredd is however much better.  So from a low starting point, I watched it on DVD (not 3-D) and liked it a lot.

Karl Urban played the character down to a T. The helmet never came off, all you got was a stompy Judge, with a stubbly chin dispensing justice with one liners.

Just as it should be.

The plot, such as it was, surficed to give Dredd and rookie Judge Anderson enough meat (literally) to get their teeth into. Both Dredd and Anderson were well played by the actors, as was Ma-Ma and her main acolytes. The irony and bitterness of Mega-City-1 were believable

The plot plays out well with a good range of surprises, and a reasonable level of violence – as in its not violence for violence’s sake necessarily. the conclusion is good and totally in keeping with Dredd’s character.

The film was not a great success at the box office, apparently the rebel colonists don’t know about Dredd, but has been a success on DVD, and Karl Urban is promoting it with a view for a sequel. Not a usual Dredd fan I would certainly recommend it (not for the faint hearted) and would welcome more films like this with its gritty violence.

I thought I was slightly OTT when it came to making sure my wargames tables were clear of extraneous rubbish. I was wrong.

Meat wagon inbound, and ready the iso-cubes the next time someone leaves cr@p on my wargames table.

Citizen, your crimes include multiple cases of rubbish on the wargames table, including dice left unattended, rulers, templates and rule books. Defence Noted.

Rocks

One of the scenery pieces I have been planning for some time is rocks. I need some additional not trees, not bushes cover for my games, so rocks it was. Hmm, then I thought I could do them for both AVBCW, BoB/RCW and Laserburn, so that required a lot of rocks, more than my gravel drive could provide.

So I headed off into the hills and got both some readily sized ones and some larger rocks that could be beaten into shape.

Three large chunks of rock, and the claw hammer.

…like Basil, taking a ham sandwich/hamster/hammer to your subject and hitting it hard over the head does require you to wear some goggles. The Queen In Yellow and I used to like quoting this at each other if we were about to engage in conflict, I’m still not sure who won this verbal argument…

And you have to smack it into useful sized pieces of about 2-3 inches.

Luckily I had some Malvern rock:

The Malvern Hills are formed of some of the most ancient rocks in England, mostly igneous and metamorphic rocks from the late pre-Cambrian, known as the Uriconian, which are around 680 million years old.

This has multiple cleavage planes (steady), so you get random sizes and shapes of rock. As some of these are going to be used for my AVBCW games, it was most appropriate to use a locally sourced rock for the scenery.

So after a smashing time I broke up the 3 large rocks I had acquired along with smaller ones, and made enough for some CD bases as usual.

The ground flock made them blend in too well, so I made sure the bushes and static grass surrounded them so the rocks would again stand out.

So 18 CD bases later I have some rocks…I won’t bore you with in depth photos of all of them. 😉

Battle Star Galactica

As a kid I watched the original Battle Star Gakactica series (BSG), so when they brought out the new ‘reimagining” I was interested. As I don’t watch TV let alone satellite, it took a couple of comments from the Byakhees to persuade me to invest in the first few DVDs, and its something I didn’t regret. Last week, thanks to the taxman, I got a load of money and treated myself to the original 1970’s version.

So after nearly 30 years I watched it again, I knew that one of the main criticisms of the original series was that it recycled footage a lot.

My veridict

I can see virtually all of the main charcters from the “reimagined” series easily enough. There was a lot of good acting and characterisation that came out despite the rather stilted dialogue, and ’70’s hair styles. There was way too much recycled footage of spacecraft and radar images, way way way too much !

I felt that the plots were rather rushed compared to the modern version which is rather odd as most people complain that TV shows today are too fast. No, in this case the original series tried to pack too much into their episodes and missed out loads of stuff – well unless they were simply missing a lot of back story. Talking of which, whilst the original series used various colloquial terms, like ‘frack’ (but not as often), it was littered with inconsistencies about whether they were leaving star systems, galaxies and so forth which the new series didn’t. This jarred a lot.

Starbuck’s role was understated even though he was often the central character in the plot. Apollo’s role was underplayed, especially his relationship with his father, and as for his sister…it seems strange any military would send an entire family into combat on the same ship.

For the colonial fleet to encounter so many ‘marooned’ human civilisations was also annoying. You don’t just suffer amnesia across an entire culture to that extent. One or two marooned or isolated settlement yes, but for every other planet to have them, well…

The computers again were quite quaint, and just goes to show how far we have come.

the news series starts out well, and many of the first series’ plots echo those from the original 1970’s series, and are much better conducted than the original series. The characters are much stronger. Sometimes the story lines can feel slow, but with hindsight they are paced about right. The re-use of stock footage is also lower though it does go on unsurprisingly.

I noticed that the ships in the colonial fleet were modelled on the originals which was a nice touch including the Rising Star’s concept.

The main disappointment is that most of the Cylons are the human masquerades, not the robotic type. There should have been more of the robots. Ironically there are many hat tips to the original series including the original “men in tin can suits”. They were at least a step up from the effette brain head cylons from the original series.

The new series is also much more consistent in its terms – there is no mention of new galaxies as it is plain they are travelling through a single galaxy. Scientifically it is also better for this, and has the issues of food and water supplies added to the plot. That said, some of the story arcs are too long and could have been shortened.

To summarise, the 1970’s series is full of good ideas, marred by some poor scripts that hurry the plot along, some hammy acting and so on. the new series is much more gritty and dark which you’ll either like or loathe.

2013 Plans & Motivation

On various chat forums the question has been asked as to what your plans are for 2013. I’ve certainly found keeping the painting log and this blog going a good incentive to actually carry out the plans I had each year. A quick chat with the local GW manager this morning also helped spur me to write this post, and to identify what 2013 will see in terms of buying, building, painting and playing with my toys.

For AVBCW:

  • Round out my BUF command units
  • Finish off the Cavalry
  • Add something odd for the BUF
  • Complete the MHC infantry and commands
  • Do their cavalry
  • Add a quirky unit for them, no idea what just yet.
  • Organise a Big Game in February (underway)
  • Play more games !

That way I have two complete armies for AVBCW: the BUF Three Counties Legion; and the quasi Royalist MHC.
Currently I will have to break through my painter’s block on the BUF cavalry. As I commented to JP last w/e, I really can’t stand the thought of painting more black, and more horse.

For Back of Beyond:

  • Finish of my White Cossack Cavalry (should be done by February)
  • Shock, Guard and Ragged Infantry to be painted
  • Command, HMG and field Guns to be finished to round out the equivalent of two armies
  • Similarly finish off Chinese army with support and command units
  • Similarly my Mongols could do with a few more elements to their army
  • Complete at least one of every armoured car and tank model I have (yeah the second armoured vehicle park I have)
  • Organise a Big Game !

This should give me a total of 3 White armies to mix and match, a Chinese and a Mongolian army. I’d like to say I’d start my Reds and British-Indian armies but lets not get too hasty !

For Laserburn:

  • More infantry and characters – I struggle to furnish 3 gangs with appropriate figures, so I’ll take a swipe at this
  • A few more vehicles
  • Some emplacements and heavy weapons
  • A few more quick wins on the scenery front – buildings
  • Play at least 3 games in one year !

I’d like to see JP’s scenery in a game.

For Warhammer:

  • The Completion of the last couple of DE Infantry units
  • Chariots with heroes
  • Monsters ridden by heroes
  • More Cold One Knights
  • Start a new Army….could it be Dwarves, Hobgoblins or Amazons… ?

This emphasis on heroes will mean a lot of more detailed painting, which should offset the khaki hue of AVBCW and BoB. I hope. This should complete my DE army and I’ll have to take a panoramic photo of it as it will include c200 infantry, c80 cavalry and much more besides !

General:

  • Tidy up the play room
  • Paint and deploy the detritus I find !
  • Sell the rest
  • Continue this blog !

I aim to break the 3,000 figures painted barrier mid year, which with all the other painted figures I have should take me to well over 4,000 painted figures which will be nice.

Maybe someday I’ll get to the AWI project that is stacked up !

Share your plans for 2013 and we can see how we progress.
🙂

Motivation

Well so along with the paint log, and the manifesto outlined above, what else am I going to keep myself motivated in 2013 to churn out a precession of hopefully well painted (to wargames standard) miniatures ? Well the GW store manager also invited me to take part in his store’s monthly painting contest which is not about perfection (allegedly) but about novelty and getting people to paint stuff. The Carnosaur (upcoming) is probably not my best paint job its sufficient for the odd times it will come out, but I think i might actually indulge in entering a competition for the first time. So I reckon I’ll use this as a chance to motivate myself to build and paint fully one of my DE heroes on mount – maybe a manticore as some of them are close to being ready for a lick of paint.

Somehow I’m guessing a non GW model won’t cut any ice in the competition.

Anyway this is an interesting idea, and I’d like to know what keep you motivated to build, paint and deploy models.

Is the use of blogs, and social media forums a good way of maintaining your motivation ?

Answers please.

🙂

Laserburn: Scenery

My mate Byakhee JP, made me some terrain pieces for Laserburn and delivered them today whilst we had a conflab about our planned AVBCW Big Game.

A total surprise for me.
And a welcome one. 🙂

He pushed out all the stops.

A broken pin tack.
Some bases I’d given him.
Scavenged pieces from bins at work.
All the high end stuff.

😉

Just as any wargamer would want their scenery pieces made !!!! 😀