The Attack Drone at Zamatkya

John Lambert enters the Forbidden zone in this solo Zona Alfa battle report

It was getting tough in Sector 27. The Federation had replaced unreliable Mercenary patrol Vigilantes with mechanised robots who didn’t need paying and in a sinister development areas of the zone were now patrolled by Kamov attack drones – pickings were slim, it kept Big Ilya awake at night. Rumours spread through his base that one of the drones had crash landed close to Zamatkya village. Ilya called up Cziscova ‘Czisco’. She had worked on development at Kamov and He thought if He could get hold of the flight control software, the drones could be jammed. Maybe the happy times would return.

Kovacs sat in the bar opposite Big Ilya and ‘Czisco’, He’d been bought a shot of Bison Grass vodka, things looked bad.

‘I need you to get a Software copy’ whispered Big Ilya, take ‘Czisco’. Nobody had said ‘No’ to an ex Cage Fighter.

Kovacs was a seasoned Zone veteran – act first, question later. His tactics were simple, eliminate the hostiles first, then scavenge and he had an ace scavenger, Ali – the thief of Baghdad. Little more than a kid, He’d survived by scavenging through the rubble before the shutters came down for good. Then there was Anasova ‘ice Queen’ the silent one, a deadly sniper from Riga, ever reliable. At the bar, He’d been taken by Czisco’s long legs and spray on denim but she never stopped prattling on, it was like a never ending hangover from cheap vodka.

They had arrived at the village in good time 35 minutes to act before a patrol drone returned, a weak sun failed to penetrate the greyness. Quickly, they identified their objective – the damaged drone in the centre but what was this? Howling mutant hounds from Hell with their sadistic Hound master Pavlov could be heard coming from a building to the west of the drone. They were guarding a hotspot. The crew would have to creep around an intervening hotspot to eliminate them. ‘Damn’ muttered Kovacs ‘This will slow us down’

Zamatkya village, with attack drone in centre and zone hostile hounds to the west
Ali moved into position and eliminated two hounds in good time

Then disaster! Both Czisco’s and Ice Queens guns jammed. There was only one thing for it. Kovacs lobbed a smoke grenade at hounds. He just didn’t want one of the crew mauled so early into the mission. He checked his watch 5 minutes gone, things weren’t going to plan and would get worse

That should stop an attack but attempts to destroy the remaining hounds were ineffective so the crew got into position for the smoke to clear. Ten minutes gone. As the smoke cleared Kovacs killed one hound before his gun jammed. Ice Queen’s gun jammed for a second time before Czisco despatched the other dogs – perhaps He’d been wrong about her all along mused Kovacs. This allowed Ali to search the building – 1250 salvage value and two red dot sights.

Fifteen minutes gone, time to head for the objective Ali tosses a bolt revealing two dangerous luminous venomous insect swarms.

Again Ice Queen’s gun jams. Ali destroys one of the swarms and then his gun jams also!

‘What the …’ snarled Kovacs, this was more than coincidence, running across open ground he blasted the remaining swarm as He and Czisco made it to the drone.

Twenty minutes gone, it was cutting it fine as it would take more than five minutes to remove the access panel, download the software then replace the panel. As the panel is removed, Kovacs orders Ali and Ice Queen to search the closest hotspot. Not ideal as Czisco’s Laptop crashes and they’ll have to spend longer at the drone!

Meanwhile Ali throws a bolt at the hotspot which reveals a mutant – looks like He’d taken a heavy dose of radiation when searching an anomaly.

Ice Queen took aim and this time the mutant was despatched instantly – phew! Ali searched the area diligently but only came away with 350 worth of salvage.

With thirty minutes approaching there was no time to search any other hotspots and it was time to get out before the patrol drone turned up. Whilst the objective had been achieved, Kovacs was no nearer to retiring to that Black Sea Dacha. He thought the ammo He’d recently bought had caused the jams. Time to visit the Dealer and ask Him if He feels lucky.

The Battle Of Nether Dunny

Stephen reports on a rare lockdown game, suitably socially distanced and held in Phil’s back garden in the September sunshine.

The year is 1263AD and the barons, led by Simon de Montfort, are in revolt against Henry III.

During the chaos, the lord of Nether Dunny has been killed, leaving the manor up for grabs. Taking advantage of the confusion, four chancers have made their way to the village to take ownership for themselves.

They are:

Sir Jeremey of Claridge – the scourge of London city. Noted for his drinking, wenching, and gambling. He’s left the city to let the heat cool off.

Sir Andrew le Roi – the youngest son of a French knight out for loot and plunder and to take advantage of the civil war.

Sir Phillip fitz Richard – from a respectable shire family, this wayward son was thrown out for getting up to no good and squandering the family inheritance.

Sir Antoine le Franc – of mysterious, and doubtless dubious, background this French knight goes everywhere with his loyal squire, Luc Brecon, and everywhere they go they leave their bills unpaid.

The first game was a simple all-vs-all so everyone could get familiar with the rules (we were playing Osprey’s ‘Outremer’).

The objective was simple – the one with the most left standing after 8 turns would be winner.

Sir Jeremey at the bottom, Sir Andrew at the top, Sir Antoine to the left, and Sir Phillip on the right

Sir Jeremey boldly stepped forth calling his men forward and getting them to advance down the road. Rowan Windrush sneakily made off through the woods.

Sir Jeremey leads his men (from the rear) on a gentle stroll along the lanes

Sir Phillip and his men stomped through the vegetable patch of the local farmer, unconcerned for the poor family’s livelihood. Others skulked around the back of the farmhouse.

Meanwhile Sir Andrew made his way through the woods and sent his crossbowmen forward to use the cover of the stone wall surrounding the farm and take up position where they could take pot shots at Sir Phillip’s men.

Sir Antoine led his men down another road with the woods hiding him and his men from Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey.

Poor Sir Antoine was to have a tough game – his men didn’t seem to know how to use their crossbows properly and Sir Antoine himself had clearly forgotten to sharpen his sword.

Sir Andrew gave the order to let fly their quarrels, and Pasquier and Remon took aim at Sir Phillip’s men. They caused no damage. Sir Jeremey and his men still carried on sauntering down the road, seemingly in no rush to get to where the action was. Peter Ashdown, a young serf from Sir Phillip’s household, climbed up the walls of the farmhouse to take position on an upstairs balcony where he would have a good view across the field with his bow.

Sir Phillip’s archers take up position

Finally, Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew’s forces came to blows.

The fight starts – Sir Andrew and Sir Antoine’s men clash

The road junction outside the farm would be the focus for the combat. Both Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew steadily fed troops in with crossbowmen trying to pick off stragglers. Sir Phillip continued to lead his men around the back of the farm and they would soon be in the fight as well. Meanwhile, Sir Jeremey and his men continued their casual stroll along the lanes, happy to let the others fight it out. Although Sir Jeremey claimed it was Peter Ashdown’s advantageous position overlooking the lane with his bow that was the source of his caution. Peter was finally taken down by Jean Paul using the cover of the stone wall to pick him off.

The two squires, Henry and Luc, come to blows

In the end the only knight left standing was Sir Phillip. All the others had taken wounds. For this reason Sir Phillip was declared winner and took control as lord of Nether Dunny manor.

The carnage is coming to an end

Sir Antoine had a difficult game. At some point all the others had taken a pop at him and this coupled with some lacklustre dice rolling meant all his men were taken down and took wounds.

Game 2 was a team game. Sir Jeremey had thrown in his lot with Sir Phillip in return for free board and lodging for himself and his retinue. This left the two Frenchmen, Sir Andrew and Sir Antoine, to join forces. The erstwhile opponents had formed an uneasy alliance, evident by the fact they deployed away from each other – allies only in name.

Now that Sir Phillip had taken control of the manor he had to keep hold of the manor’s wealth and assets. The previous lord had left his goods under the safeguarding of the parish priest. Six objectives were placed in and around the church. The defenders (Sir Phillip and Sir Jeremey) had to protect them and the attackers (Sir Antoine and Sir Andrew) had to loot them!

Sir Phillip commands from the church hill

Full credit to Sir Antoine. Though bedevilled by bad luck he led from the front and never shirked his knightly obligations. He led his men on an assault of the church yard walls and soon made a breach and got into the church compound. Sir Andrew was more cautious – moving up through the woods and using the cover of the trees to snipe with his crossbowmen.

Sir Andrew’s men take cover in the woods whilst Sir Jeremey’s men keep behind the church wall

Sir Jeremey was down in the lower yard, by the church barn, organising his troops for the attack of the Frenchmen.

Sir Antoine and Sir Jeremey face each other off

Sir Phillip took a more lordly position, up on the church hill, with his squire, Henry Wilton, and his archers. Once the French crossbow bolts started whizzing around (one of which felled Henry and another couple embedded themselves in Sir Phillip’s shield) Sir Phillip tactfully came off the hill and down into the lower yard where the French had got over the wall and were engaged in melee with the English defenders.

Once more, Sir Antoine would have a difficult time, on this occasion falling under the blows of Simon Miller’s weighty plancon. Even Sir Phillip dirtied his hands and got involved in the fighting this time! Truly the lord of the manor.

Sir Andrew and Sir Jeremey also exchanged blows – with Sir Jeremey finally going down (not without help from Rogier).

In the distance Sir Jeremey and Sir Andrew fight whilst Sir Phillip takes his position amongst the sheep

By the end of the game, the Frenchmen had managed to loot two of the six objectives. This meant that Sir Phillip kept hold of the manor and most of its wealth, though those wily Frenchmen would not go home empty handed.

In Outremer when someone is Taken Down they are not necessarily dead. Taken Down means they have taken enough wounds that they are out of the game. Once the game is over a roll is made to see what wound they have suffered. After the first game most wounds were little more than flesh wounds (though several of Sir Andrew’s retinue went into the second game with a limp, and Sir Antoine and some of his men had taken serious wounds). Evrart Courtier was the only one actually killed.

Proof! Sir Phillip (with the eagle on his shield) did get involved in the melee

During game 2 young Henry Wilton, Sir Phillip’s loyal squire, had taken a bad wound from a crossbow bolt. He would need constant, and expensive, medical attention – money that would be difficult to find in Sir Phillip’s depleted coffers. But Sir Phillip was a good man and kept his squire on. Although it did happen that two days later Henry was found face down in the village pond. Drowned. It was assumed a terrible accident had taken place, although the priest who prepared his body did notice a wound to the back of Henry’s head. But as Sir Phillip explained, this probably happened when he slipped and fell, banging his head, before rolling into the pond…

Andy also took some photos, which we’ve added as a gallery below.

Delving Deeper

Andy continues his metamorphosis into a dwarf. He already has the beard, but I swear he’s getting shorter…

The third batch of Dwarves are now completed. Only 18 in this batch. All unit references are for Dragon Rampant.
• A unit of Light Archers (12 figures) in various shades of green tunics (above).

• Half a dozen Dwarf Rangers, 3 with longbow and three with throwing axes. These are enough for a unit of Scouts.

The figures were glued to their slottabases and any gaps in the base filled. A layer of sand & grit was stuck to the bases with PVA glue. The figures were undercoated with matt black and the bases painted a dark brown (USA Olive Drab) and drybrushed London Grey.

The archers were painted in various shades of green, with boots, leather armour and belts various shades of brown. Armour was painted Gunmetal Grey and washed with AP Dark tone wash. Ranger’s tunics were various shades of green; cloaks were painted in greens or greys. Skin had a coat of Flesh Wash and hair Soft or Dark tone washes.

Bases were then flocked, and the figures varnished with a matt spray varnish.

Society Quiz 02-09-2020

Are we sitting comfortably ? Andy takes the quizmaster’s chair again this week. Answers in a future post.

1a In Norse mythology Odin has two ravens which fly the earth seeking information for him. What are their names (Norse or English versions accepted)?
1b Odin is also accompanied by two wolves, can you name them?

2a In naval terms, what is “The Perisher”?
2b If you fail the Perisher, you get something and there is something you can never do again. One point if you can name either of them?

3a What is the designation of this unusual WW2 Aircraft?

3b What is the name or designation of this aircraft, it’s more successful competitor?

4a In the classic TV series Porridge, Ronnie Barker played the habitual criminal, Norman Stanley Fletcher. But what does a Fletcher traditionally make?
4b In the series Open All Hours, he played the corner shop keeper, Albert Arkwright. But what does an Arkwright traditionally make?

5a Hammer’s Slammers games are fairly popular at the Club, what is the name of the author of the original short stories on which the game is based?
5b What is the nickname given to the Slammer’s Military Police unit?

6a In WW2, what was PQ17?
6b Can you name the port that was its intended destination?

7a In 2006 the club show game was “Day trip to the Malvinas”, based on the Falklands War. Which ship served as the flagship of the Royal Navy Task Group 317.8 sent to liberate the islands?
7b Name the commander of the Task Group at sea?

8a Which regiment of the British Army, now part of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, was known as “Pontius Pilate’s bodyguard”?
8b Which regiment of the British Army, now part of the King’s Royal Hussars, was known as “The Cherry Pickers”?

9a The Victoria Cross is the highest award for valour in the British armed forces. In which decade of the 19th century was it instituted?
9b If you were awarded the Victoria Cross as a result of service in the Royal Navy in the 19th century, what colour ribbon would you wear?

10a In 1859 there was a confrontation known as the “Pig War” between the United States and which country?
10b Where did this confrontation take place?

11a Which WW2 British division used this field sign?

11b Can you name this tank, used by this division later in the war?

12a In the British Army, which rank wears this insignia?

12b In the Royal Navy, what is the precise rank indicated by this insignia?

She’s Got It Where It Counts

Stephen realises his childhood dream…

There comes a point in every sci-fi gamer’s career that his mind turns to only one thought: I want a spaceship.

I too, wanted a spaceship.

A spaceship on the table could be used for many things – perhaps an objective, perhaps just a bit of scenery.

I thought about scratch building. But it just seemed too ambitious. And I also thought the model may be too fragile as well. I rather like the ‘boiler plate’ aesthetic of Star Wars and to achieve that requires a lot of bits and pieces. I have some, but not enough for a whole spaceship. Then my mind turned to what injection plastic kits may already be available, but there’s not many in the appropriate scale and what there is can be quite expensive.

So I turned to Amazon.

I thought there would be more options than there were. Plenty of Star Wars stuff, with franchise prices. Then I found what I was looking for – a generic kid’s toy spaceship. Dimensions seemed about right, and at about a tenner, the price was worth taking a punt on.

When it arrived I was initially disappointed. Not because of the colour (it was always going to get a new paint job), nor the size (which was spot on). It was the material it was made from. I had hoped it would be made from hard plastic but it wasn’t. It was made from that same soft plastic that Airfix soldiers are made from.

Bummer.

My problem with this material is one of adhesion. I did intend on adding a few detailing bits but finding a glue that grips that plastic is hard. Ditto when it comes to paint. The walls of the model were quite thin and flexible and would easily bend and fling paint.

I was just going to forget about it and chalk it down to experience and be thankful I hadn’t wasted more than a tenner. So it languished in a cupboard for a few weeks.

Then I had an idea – expanding foam! I thought that if I fill the underside with expanding foam that may offer a bit of resistance to the flexibility and prevent any paint loss. So that’s what I did – fill the underside and cavities with expanding foam.

Once that had cured I cut it all flush and glued down the compartments. As I looked at it I thought it probably didn’t need any more details added or else it would look fussy, but I did want to add some better looking engine boosters. A couple of suitable looking bottle caps were found and they were superglued in place. The whole thing was then given a complete covering of khaki spray.

And so on to the painting. I decided to do it white. The khaki would provide a good base colour for depth and shade. Then came the dry-brushing. Lots of dry-brushing.

I went with a pale beige all over. Two coats of this. Then the white. The first going over with the white was all over, and the second layer was just on raised areas. This is so some of the beige and off-white showed through, making it look used and grubby.

An accent colour was then needed to give some contrast. It was between blue or red. I went with the Star Wars red.

Screens were painted black and then made to shine with a royal blue which was then picked out with a couple of lighter shades.

Finishing touches were to add a couple of spare decals.

I wanted the finished model to look generic. I didn’t want it looking overtly military (hence why no external guns and weapons were added – I can always argue they are on retractable mounts), but neither did I want it to look too civilian. As it is it can be used as a shuttle or as a freighter. Whatever is needed for the game at hand.

I’m glad I decided to slap some paint on it in the end, rather than give up on it. Looking at the finished piece I think I was right – it didn’t need any more detailing. The foam has certainly made the sides more rigid so time will tell if the paint comes off too easily or not.

I now have my spaceship.