Stephen gives us step by step guide to painting a Sci Fi villain.
For an upcoming game of Stargrave I wanted a baddie. The Big Boss. I looked at the models I had and none of them were really suitable.
So I decided I would buy something. I knew how I wanted the model to be armed, and knew my chances of finding something exactly like that was virtually zero, so it had to be something that could be modified.
Since I intended to order some bits from Ral Partha I thought I’d have a look there.
And lo and behold, I found just the thing – a Neo Soviet Handler from their Vor range (specifically, code 40-412):
I trimmed off the knuckle-duster thing in his left hand and in its place went a blaster pistol from the spares bag. His main armament was going to be a void blade. And when I saw this model, and what he had in his right hand, I couldn’t believe my luck. This would make the perfect handle for a lightsaber (sorry, void blade). I trimmed it down a bit, but I liked the flared ending so kept that. A hole was drilled and a piece of 1.5mm styrene rod was glued in. The model was then stuck to a 25mm plastic base and the base built up with filler. And then it was given a brown undercoat:
Now, in this write-up I am just going to give generic colours rather than specific names and codes for a brand. I use from more than one range of paints and I am sure everyone else does as well.
I decided his robes, gloves, and gimp mask were going to be black. So I slapped it on, letting it get into any awkward gaps in case I couldn’t get a brush in there later so it would act as a deep shade.
Right, this is just my own personal philosophy on black. But I never highlight black with just grey. No. Black is seldom that helpful. Look at any black clothes you may have. I bet they’re all slightly different shades – it depends on age, what the material is, what dye was used. Lots of variables. So try to keep that in mind when highlighting your blacks. The black for the robes had a bit of blue added, then white added to that for successive highlights. The gloves and mask had a blob of red added, then white added to that for successive highlights. You can see the slight difference in ‘black’ here:
Next up, I decided to do the bits that would get a dark brown (OK, OK, GW’s Agrax Earthshade) wash – the boots, pouches, bracers, and metallic bits. These received the same base brown colour. The metals had a steel base colour. Once dried, on goes the wash.
And when that’s dried the pieces are painted up. Like black (and most colours, to be honest) it helps if you vary what you use to highlight your base colours. It’s tempting to add white to lighten it. But maybe yellow might give a different shade to the base colour, or a pale grey. This is a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you have two uses of the same colour next to each other. That said, I did use white to highlight the brown. The metal bits were touched up with the base steel colour, and then highlighted with silver. I ummed and ahhed about what colour to do the lenses on the eyepieces. Blue or green were the first choices that came to mind. But then I thought, orange. So orange it was, highlighted with a dot of yellow.
Next up I decided to do his weapons. There’s a good reason for this – I just couldn’t make up my mind what colour to do his armour. Normally I would have left the weapons to last because they stick out and there’s every chance they could get knocked or rubbed as I did other bits. But I just couldn’t make up my mind. I had thought about green, but I had also decided that his blade was going to be green, and if there was too much green then I may have to re-paint the armour. With that, I decided to do the weapons first, and once that was done maybe the armour colour would be obvious. The handgun had a base colour that was a mix of steel and black to make a gun metal colour, then highlighted with the steel. A red laser sight was also dotted in. I knew from the outset I was going to do a green blade. I have a nice rich green colour, so I went with that. It’s hard to paint a 3D object like it is lit from inside, so I chose to just highlight the base and tip of the blade. I used white to highlight this time.
I looked at it. You know what, I thought, I reckon green would look OK. So I went with green for the armour, but a different shade of green. I gave all the armour panels a thin coating (not really a wash, but not really thick paint either) of the base green mixed with a blob of dark brown (again, you don’t have to darken colours with just black). Once dry I then painted in the panels with the base colour, which was highlighted by adding yellow to the green to create a more vibrant green, but also so it didn’t have the same tonal value as the green on the blade. The edges of the armour were based in dark yellow, and then picked out with a flat yellow.
And that’s the end of the painting for Doctor Moreau. Once finished, I thought the 25mm base looked a little small on what was a chunky model. So I pried the model off the base (and, inevitably, had to touch up a few knocks and chips) and glued him to a 30mm wooden base. Flocking was my standard recipe – a mix of railway ballasts first, and then some spots of static grass:
And that’s Doctor Moreau done, ready to be pestered and set upon by a group of ne’er do wells and freeloaders.
During a recent discussion over Stagrave and making scenery Marcus mentioned a cheap set of terrain available from Mantic Games for the game Dreadball. Further browsing of the Mantic Games site showed a box set called Dreadball Xtreme for £9.99.
Club member Jeremey took the plunge and bought a set for evaluation:
This all started when I saw the Dreadball set of Free Agents that I thought would be good for converting into a Stargrave crew. The Free Agents set was £9.99 but I discovered the Dreadball Xtreme set for £9.99 included the Free Agents set, it also contained some terrain in the form of crates, perfect terrain for any Sci-fi games; so I thought I might as well pick up a set.
I had to pay postage so the whole thing cost me £16.99, and this is what I got.
I will say straight away this is not a review of the actual game. I had no interest in playing it. I bought the set for use in other games.
This is what you get in the set. First up were the 9 Free Agent miniatures that first led me to the set. The miniatures in the game are all hard plastic. The quality varied, some had sharp details others were very soft. Also the painted miniature pictures on the Mantic Games site gave me the impression that some of the miniatures were larger. For example the Treeman looked tall but is the same height as the other humanoid miniatures. Mould lines were quite pronounced on some of the miniatures, those needed to be cut off, filing on this type of plastic just roughs up the surface of the miniature.
Next came the female team for the game. The miniatures are quite slight and of all the miniatures these were the softest and worst mould lines.
This was a shame because I wanted a number of female characters in my Stargrave crew. You get two copies of five different miniatures in this set, although two are wounded. But these could be good for rescue scenarios in games.
Here is a close up showing the size of the mould lines on the female miniatures.
The second team are convicts and these had better castings. You get more variety with this team (they are convicts apparently), they are nice post apocalyptic looking. there are three miniatures where you get two copies. One pose being wounded as with the female team. There are two other miniatures and then the larger ogre/thug miniatures that come with different arms and heads so they don’t have to look the same.
The Dreadball Xtreme set comes with two figures to represent team sponsors. The suited miniature would be good as a boss to be protected or assassinated in games, with the other one potentially being a gang leader.
Now we come to the terrain which is one of the reasons I wanted to get the set. These are quite good with four power unit pieces, six square crates, four lighting units and 16 hexagonal crates. These were all nice clean castings with few mould lines.
I should also mention the other bits from the box that I might find a use for. The rules, counters and cards for the game don’t hold much use for me. But the game mat from the set is about 24″ x 24″ and a hefty piece of rubber (mousemat?) style fabric. You could probably use it as a door mat it feels so tough. But I’m probably going to cut it up as the design will work for landing pads, storage areas or to represent the interior of a starship. There were also 24 plastic hex bases in two colours. These could be good for various terrain projects of bases for other miniatures.
So was it all worth it? I must say I was hoping for more from this set, the casting is a bit poor on some of the miniatures and the detail very soft. I will have to see how these look once I apply the spray undercoat. That often highlights the detail a bit better. But for my £16.99 I got enough miniatures to create a fairly good crew of 8 or so miniatures, some creatures and characters for scenarios, 30 terrain objects and a mat that will make several pieces for games/terrain, all that considered it was probably worth it. But I do wonder why the Dreadball Xtreme set is £9.99 when the contents if bought separately on the Mantic Games site would be over £60 just for the miniatures. Are the individual team sets at £25 each better cast? Who knows the reason behind it. But I’m happy enough with the amount of material I got from this set.
I start off by washing the figures in warm soapy water, to remove any mould release agent, then rinse and dry them.
For 28mm infantry I standardise on 2p coins for the bases. I can then use them individually for games like SAGA or Lion Rampant, or on sabot trays for games like Dux Bellorum.
So once cut from the sprues and any mould lined removed with a scalpel and file the figures were stuck to their bases using a general-purpose adhesive, like Bostick.
Some of the figures have their left arms as part of the torso, others have them as separate pieces. I then assembled the figures using liquid polystyrene cement, except for the shields. I leave the shields off to make it easier to paint the left arm and chest. I do keep a shield handy to check the position of the left arm against the position of the right arm and spear during assembly.
I didn’t have quite enough heads with helmets for the 16 (I had previously used some on some unarmoured bodies) so a couple of the figures had bare heads from the Dark Ages Warriors box. The bases were then built up with Polyfilla.
I then undercoated the figures with grey car primer spray.
Most of the paints I use are Vallejo Model Colour, exceptions are mainly Army Painter (AP) washes and inks.
First off, I painted any areas of mail matt black, followed by dry-brushed Gunmetal Grey. Spear tips and helmets were painted the same colour. Next the faces, necks and hands were base coated Brown Sand.
Skin was the painted Medium Flesh Tone.
Now to start with the systematic randomisation of colours for the clothing. I arranged the figures into as near a rectangular formation as possible, in this case the 16 figures simply went into four ranks of four files.
I then painted the figure’s trousers by file:
Light Brown (A, E, I, M)
Chocolate Brown (B, F, J, N)
AP Dark Stone (C, G, K, O)
Basalt Grey (D, H, L, P)
Then the tunics by rank:
Grey Blue (A, B, C, D)
Deep Green (E, F, G, H)
Red (I, J, K, L)
Mahogany Brown (M, N, O, P)
If I had been painting lower status troops, I would have used the same colours overall for tunic and trousers, but added an additional colour to the tunic mix to avoid having the tunic and trousers the same colour on any individual figure.
Next were the leggings, in diagonal lines top left to bottom right
Buff (A, F, K, P)
Pale Sand (B, G, L, M)
Beige (C, H, I, N)
Deck Tan (D, E, J, O)
Next is the leatherwork. Belts, pouches and scabbard in diagonal lines from top right to bottom left, I used the same colours for the figure’s boots in a semi random order.
German Cam Black Brown. Belts etc: (A, H, K, N) Boots: (D, F, I, O)
All leggings and figures with Tan Yellow or Brown Sand hair was washed with AP Light Tone wash.
The bases were then finished with green basetex.
Having finished the figures, I moved on to the shields.
These were cleaned up in the same way as the figures, then undercoated black on the backs and white on the front. I use white on the fronts as I was going to use shield transfers rather than painting the designs.
I then drybrushed the back of the shields with Beige Brown and painted the shield bosses Gunmetal Grey while still on the sprues.
Little Big Men Studios decals have a hole for the shield boss already cut out, but the Battle Flag decals don’t, you have to cut those yourself.
I did have some issues with some of the LBMS decals, I couldn’t peel the plastic cover off to expose the self-adhesive surface. After ruining a few of the decals I ended up gluing them to the shield complete with the plastic layer using PVA glue. I haven’t had that problem before, so I wonder if it’s because these are fairly old, 3-4 years maybe? I didn’t have any problems with the Battle Flag decals.
Once the decals had dried, I painted the shield rims with Japanese Uniform to represent the leather edging. Once this was dry, I then cut the shields from the sprues, tidied up the edges with more Japanese Uniform.
The astute among you will notice there are 20 shields, but only 16 figures, the extras will be used as battlefield markers: Fatigue in SAGA, Battered in Lion Rampant, or Leadership Points in Dux Bellorum.
It’s never a good idea to glue painted articles together, paint to paint bonds aren’t strong, so I used a file to remove the paint from the contact points and then used liquid polystyrene cement to glue the shields in place.
The figures were then given a coat of spray matt varnish.
Here they are, 16 figures, making up 4 points of SAGA Hearthguard, a unit of Lion Rampant Sergeants with four figures left over or 2 units of Dux Bellorum Noble Shieldwall:
The guy on the left of the front rank has a painted shield (Green and Light Blue) from my stash of spare shields rather than one of the shields I did in this session.
So, that’s my method for painting irregulars in a systematic way.
The first historical wargames army I ever bought was a Crusader army. It’s always been a period of great interest to me, especially the later crusades of the thirteenth century.
I resisted buying a crusades army in 28mm because that meant I’d also have to get some Saracens and I just didn’t want to paint all that patterned cloth.
Then a while ago I was given a box of plastic Gripping Beast Arab infantry. They sat in a cupboard for a couple of months because I still didn’t have the will to paint all that fabric. Then I saw some pictures of other’s Saracen armies and I saw how they’d done them in plain white material. ‘That’s a good idea’, I thought. So that’s what I did, and decided I’d make the Ghulams a bit more colourful – representing wealthier troops able to buy expensive fabrics.
Being motivated to get these done, I motored through them. And this weekend I decided to have a game. I was going to play Saga, but it doesn’t play solo so well. So instead I went with Lion Rampant…
The two sides lined up opposite each other. Both had 24 points a side.
The Crusaders had two units of Templar knights (LR: Mounted Men at Arms), two units of Mounted Sergeants, and one of foot Crossbows.
I gave the Saracens two units of Ghulams (LR: Foot Men at Arms), two units of Ghazis (LR: Foot Yeomen, armed with short range missiles – javelins), and two units of Ahdath (LR: Bidowers).
I did a simple meeting scenario – both sides hacking at each other until one is gone.
I rolled for leader traits and got Vulnerable for the Crusaders (leader killed on a Lucky Blow of 2 or 3) and Lionheart (ironically) for the Saracen leader (meaning his unit could re-roll 2 failed hit dice).
The Saracens went first and they were lucky enough to activate all their units – moving up to occupy favourable terrain that would hamper the mounted crusaders. The Ahdath would be well placed in these areas of bad terrain, where they could lodge themselves in and shoot at the Crusader cavalry. The only solution to this would be the Crusader crossbows, so it would be worth the Saracens taking out the Crossbows as soon as possible.
The Crusaders were equally lucky, activating all their units. The Sergeants on the right went galloping past the village, the Crossbows moved up to get into range of the Ahdath hiding in the scrub, and the Knights also moved up.
One thing became obvious – there was a natural funnel to the battlefield between two areas of rough terrain. The Ghulams had moved up to block this gap, with the Ahdath either side with their bows to shoot at anything coming between them. The only thing the Crusaders could do was to advance as quickly as possible to minimise their exposure to the enemy arrows.
The Saracen Ghazis kept moving up to the Crossbows, desperate to engage and eliminate them – if they could it would make a Crusader victory difficult. The other unit of Ghazis, over by the village, decided to hurl their javelins at the approaching Sergeants, scoring enough hits to take one of them out. When it came to the Crusader’s turn they were more than ready to return the gesture. Although the Ghazis were approaching the Crossbows, it was obvious the Crossbows had to take a shot at the Ahdath in the scrub. Spanning their bows, they took aim, and…a devastating volley! The unit of Saracen skirmishers were devastated and routed off the table! Both units of Sergeants advanced – those on the left moved into the middle of the funnel to threaten the Ghulams, whilst those on the right put in their spurs and charged the other Ghazi unit.
Casualties were taken on both sides and the Ghazis were bounced back. But the Sergeants were now down to half strength which meant their combat effectiveness was also halved.
It was then over to the Saracens to go on the attack. On their activation they sent the Ghazis in to charge the crossbows.
Improbably, the Crossbows prevailed! They didn’t take a single casualty and pushed back the Ghazis who failed their courage roll and were now battered. The other unit of Ghazis managed to rally, ready to block the Sergeants. The remaining unit of Ahdath drew their bows, trying to decide who to shoot at – the unit of Sergeants leading the attack through the funnel, or the unit of Knights who were coming in behind to mop up any remnants the Sergeants left behind.
Deciding that the Ghulams should be able to resist an attack by the Sergeants, the Ahdath took aim at the Knights and let fly. No effect this time.
Now it was over to the Crusaders. The Sergeants were in charge range of the Saracen leader, so decided to go for it and see if they could get a lucky hit. And they did! OK, so the Saracen leader didn’t go down, but a couple of his Ghulam bodyguards did and had to retreat. The Crossbows, knowing how lucky they’d just been in repelling the Ghazi charge, took aim and let rip. A good shot that took out a couple of the Ghazis. However, best of all, the Ghazis then failed their courage test. It was such a bad fail that they routed off the table.
The Saracens had to go on the counter-charge. The Saracen leader ordered his men to charge and in they went against the Sergeants. But it happened again – the Sergeants came out on top. Sort of – no casualties on either side, but since the Saracens had charged and failed they had to retreat. The Ahdath had another go at the Knights, this time scoring a kill. And the Ghazi unit by the village threw more of their javelins at the Sergeants, taking another rider out and leaving them battered.
Things were coming to a head. The Sergeants, not believing their luck, charged the Saracen leader again. Not such a good result this time – the Sergeants took heavy loses and were pushed back, under half strength and battered! The first unit of Crusader Knights went in and charged the Ghulams. A fairly even result, meaning the Crusaders had to retreat. Had the Saracens managed to turn things around?
Back to the Saracens, and they spent most of their turn rallying units. The Ahdath once again took a shot and once again took out one of the Knights. They were starting to become a real pain.
So on the Crusader turn the Crossbows moved up so they could get in range of the other unit of Saracen skirmishers. The Crusader leader also decided to take part (remember, his leader trait would make him more susceptible to a lucky blow, so he’d been wise to keep out of it until needed). So the Crusader leader took command of his Knights and they charged one of the Ghulam units. Casualties were taken on both sides, and a Lucky Blow roll was made against the Crusader leader: double 6 – nowhere near!
On the Saracen turn I noticed the two leaders were near each other. There was only one thing for it – Leaders Challenge! The Crusader leader accepted. Into the middle they went and rolled for it.
No hits for the Saracen leader, but the Crusader leader scored a hit, meaning the Saracen leader had been killed in personal combat! All the Saracen units now had to make courage rolls. Only the ex-leader’s unit failed, leaving them battered, but all the others passed. There were still enough Saracens left to make it worth fighting on, so I kept the battle going – despite losing their leader, could the Saracens still manage to win?
Well, maybe. But on the Crusaders’ turn the crossbows took a shot at the remaining unit of Ahdath in the rocks. Despite the extra protection, they still lost half their unit and fled. It was now looking extremely unlikely that the Saracens could win this one. All they really had left was a single unit of Ghazis. Well, there were the Ghulams, but both of those units were down to just two models each, so they’d lost their punch.
Ultimately and inevitably, it would be a Crusader victory. The Crusader leader, emboldened by his victory with the Saracen leader in single combat, led his knights in repeated charges on the final unit of Ghazis. The Ghazis were steadily whittled down until they finally failed their courage test.
John gives a the low down on the Kontraband expansion for Zona Alfa, and a prize winning battle report on one of the scenarios from the book.
John tells us “There’s a competition on the F/B page for battle reports. I sent a copy of the article to the rules author and I’ve won a copy of the rule book signed by the author and illustrator.”
Zona Alfa was published by Osprey in early 2020. It’s a skirmish game set in the Chernobyl exclusion zone where teams battle for salvage and hope to survive. I’d hoped to play it at the club, then along came the pandemic. The author supports the game well via the Stalker 7 website and solo or Coop rules were soon developed, where the player games against the zone itself rather than a physical opponent. I’ve posted 3 battle reports here and you can check out Guerrilla Miniature Games U Tube channel where a full 7 game campaign is played out. These rules are highly recommended.
Kontraband is an 80 page expansion to the Zona Alfa ruleset (which you will need to play Kontraband), available through Amazon as hardcopy or Wargames Vault as a pdf. It develops the ideas above to take the game in a different direction, recommending a play area of 3’ x 3’ and a crew of 4 veterans. It is set deep in the Exclusion Zone at high threat level so it’s worth playing through a few standard Zona Alfa games before diving in. Here’s what’s in the book.
Crew members can either be Stalkers – good at combat or Scientists – good at technical tasks, a further option is to include a dog companion for which there are detailed rules and additional rules for Hazmat suits. Each crew member can have different equipment or skills so it’s worth spending the time to make them complementary.
The play area is populated with a recommended nine searchable locations (points of interest). The crew have to live off the land so these need to be searched for food, drink, ammo etc. to sustain the crew for the next game. There are 20 points of interest cards from which the 9 are randomly selected, shuffled and placed as an Incident Deck, the top card being revealed when a point of interest is searched. These cards are nearly all bad news and may spawn a zone hostile within close combat distance, dangerous plants or booby traps. There is a greater emphasis on melee combat than in Zona Alfa.
The objective of the game is to search Anomalies to retrieve artifacts (the recommended goal for a campaign being 12 artifacts). It is recommended that the play area for a game has 3 Anomalies to search. The rules for anomalies are fleshed out and there are options for different area effects if the anomaly search goes wrong – four ways to die. Models can be caught in a gravity force field, electrocuted, blasted or teleported away from the anomaly.
There is no game turn limit, the risk of staying in a dangerous area is handled by zone events. Starting on the second move, and becoming more likely with each subsequent move, there is a risk of a zone event, for example: an energy wave, vermin stampede, security patrol, angry mutant or anomaly movement to ruin your day.
This covers a better way of dealing with wounds than the original rule book, there are new weapons and accessories with better options for melee combat. Zone hostiles can be made more dangerous and the concept of fatigue and obsessions are introduced. In Zona Alfa, progression is covered from Rookie through to Veteran. In Kontraband, crew members can add sixth sense, extra toughness, and an additional skill after a number of survived missions.
Missions and Expeditions.
There are 6 separate mission ideas for pick- up games or to link together to form an expedition and a sample expedition of 5 missions in the rulebook. So whilst waiting for some new figures, I decided to try out the reconnaissance mission.
For the first turn the crew will check out the POI closest to their entry point, the abandoned farm equipment. Each crew member can have three actions per turn and it’s worth using one action “alert” to provide overwatch for the Searcher. The top card from the Incident deck is revealed.
Had the incident card been a bandit ambush, it’s likely that one or more crew members would have been out of action on turn one, unless crew members are on alert to take pre-emptive action.
The Searcher (Ali) has the scrounger skill so can search the POI twice, He secures rations, water and ammo which the crew will need for the next mission – in the game you have to think about the future as well as the present.
At each turn after turn 1 a D10 is rolled. The die roll is added to the turn number and if the result is greater than 10, a zone event occurs the subsequent turn. No zone event for turn 3.
The crew head up the board and Sukova (a Scientist) is best equipped to search the anomaly, which she does.
A zone event, an anomaly shift will take place at the start of turn 4. The crew move up to the top RH corner of the board to search the POI, next turn. This will not affect the crew as they will be out of range.
No zone event is rolled. Spassky (Bounty Hunter) checks the POI – not the best option. The card reveals a zone hazard ‘Spores and Spitters’. He survives one attack and retrieves a sample from the POI.
The zone event roll results in an Alpha Predator entering the board at the start of turn 6.
The crew move towards the POI at the top left hand corner of the board but reserve an alert action to use against the Predator when it enters the board. Where possible, they move into cover, this will give protection against the attacking Predator which has Ranged and Melee combat abilities
An area emission effect will arrive at the start of turn 7
The predator enters, this is a dangerous opponent with high armour value. Ruined buildings prevent a direct attack route and it is forced wide and after 3 movement actions it has none left to attack the crew. It’s the crew’s turn and Ali fires the grenade launcher and scores one wound. The Leader gives him an extra action to get into cover. Spassky with Steady hands and a Red Dot sight on his battle rifle fires at the predator. It takes 3 firing actions but the predator is downed. Spassky is stuck in the open.
The Zone event roll results in another Alpha predator arriving. Things are not good for Spassky. He takes the full force of the Zone emission, he’s pinned and wounded and it takes all his actions to recover. Nimzo gives him an action to go on alert. The rest of the team move round to deal with the Predator when it enters.
The zone event roll brings up another zone emission at the start of the next turn.
The Predator enters, Ali fires a grenade which causes one wound, whilst Nimzo causes another. Spassky lobs a smoke grenade at the Predator which has to take a will check. It rolls a 10. This is an automatic pin and the will failure adds another. It will take 2 actions to remove the pinned counter but the Predator will still be able to attack Spassky once when it emerges from the smoke.
Ali makes it to the thicket which holds the POI they must search for. Sukova manages to search a second anomaly and grab an artefact before ducking into cover. Nimzo orders Spassky to seek cover under farm machinery. Nimzo joins him there to apply a med kit.
The zone event for the next turn is another Alfa Predator
This turn, the effect of the zone emission is negated because all crew members are in cover. Nimzo and Spassky go on alert whilst Sukova searches a POI, which reveals a mutant.
Meanwhile Ali’s search triggers a Zone Hazard – cobwebs.
Nimzo gives Ali an extra action so he can go on alert and get in position to attack the Predator the next turn
The zone event for move 11 is another zone emission.
The Predator enters but the crew are ready. Ali fires a grenade causing one wound and Spassky finishes it off with two shoot actions, the extra damage from his AS Val battle rifle proving crucial. In their move, the crew race towards the final POI that needs to be searched to complete the mission. They duck into cover to avoid the effect of the emission. Ali moves slower as he is slowed down by the heavy weapon.
The zone event for move 12 is the arrival of a Spetsnaz zone patrol
The zone emission has no effect and the crew continue towards the final POI. Spassky searches the POI – Marsh gas, if he fails the will check, he will fire at the nearest crew member! He passes and collects a sample having an action to clear the board. The rest of the crew follow, Ali needs to take a swig of Electric Juice to give him the extra action before the Zone Patrol enters.
The incident packed game had taken just over 90 minutes, a bit longer to make commentary notes and photos. I really enjoyed the game which adds extra detail to the Zona Alfa ruleset. I’ve played this scenario 4 times now, each game was different and challenging. I’d recommend this game to all players- whether you are a regular player or a sceptic who felt the original game wasn’t for them.
Zona Alfa and Kontraband are well supported by the author who has answered any queries or clarification promptly. The Facebook page is an excellent and supportive source for the game, no bitchy point scorers on this site which is refreshing compared to other wargaming Facebook pages I subscribe to.
I can see myself wanting to play it loads (mind you, there’s loads of other games I want to play as well – currently undergoing bad Saga withdrawal symptoms).
Lucky for me, I have enough figures and scenery to get started with Stargrave, no need to paint before play, etc.
So what I have here is an introduction to two crews I have put together.
The first group are a party of scavengers from the Candolorian system. They are led by Elias Dante, captain of The Devastator, and a rogue who has been one side of the galaxy to the other. With Elias is Imjin Tik-tok, a Tuncoul and experienced tekker who looks after Elias’ droids.
The droids themselves are TT-1B and CLN-T 35TWD. 1B is an old sentry bot who’s had his software updated. CLN-T is of unknown origin.
The rest of the crew are made up of Mackenzie Talian, Quill Raiker, and Murch Nagu. Mac and Quill have known each other for years and have worked on many heists and smuggling jobs. Murch is a Thecan and a heavy trooper from the wars.
Next up is Madam Sholay, a psionicist and owner of The Monsoon – a converted Hauler class light freighter. First mate on The Monsoon is a biomorph called Shoggoth, who never strays far from Sholay’s side.
The crew of The Monsoon is made up of ex-military personnel. There’s Aidan Kenver and Yammet de la Cruz, a pair of advance party pathfinders.
And rounding off the group are Mallias Bygrove and Zanford Schneider, two snipers who have a long list of kills to their names.
Here is the third and final instalment of Andy’s recently finished Dark Ages figures.
Above we have four figures from Westwind Productions DS04 Character pack, comprising (left to right) Arthur, a Bishop, Merlin and Owain.
The pack came with a selection of heads and shields for Arthur and Owain however, at some point in the painting process (interrupted by Christmas when I had to clear my painting table) I lost the shields. So Owain now has a spare Saxon shield and, as I used a Romano-British looking head for Arthur, I gave him a Late Roman shield, both from Gripping Beast Plastics.
Paints are primarily Vallejo acrylics over a grey primer finished off with Army Painter washes. Arthur and Owain’s shields were painted white and finished with Battle Flag or Little Big Men Studios transfers.
The last four figures from this batch are from a variety of manufacturers.
I’m not sure where the figure on the left came from, Irregular or Lamming perhaps? The figure was originally unarmed, so I drilled out his right hand and fitted an axe from the spares box. If I need him to fill out a unit I may give him a shield.
Next in line is a bard or skald from Ral Partha Europe, he’s playing a harp of some form.
John looks back at a Dragon Rampant Warband he built for a past club campaign…
Some time ago Stephen hosted a Dragon Rampant Campaign where my Da Vinci Condotta warband was narrowly beaten into second place by Tony Gibb’s army. With some WIP Wednesday painting articles centred on this ruleset, I thought I’d dust off the army and explain how I went about making it.
Prior to the campaign, we’d had a few trial games where my Dark Age force fared badly and I decided I’d have to change if I was going to be competitive. I’d never been a fantasy gamer so had no Orcs, Elves or Dwarves so decided to go with a human based theme at minimum cost.
I came up with the idea of a warband which would include some of Leonardo da Vinci’s war machines with some Italian Renaissance figures. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan sponsored Leonardo who created a number of sketches of war machines and a TV programme entitled ‘Doing Da Vinci’ used these sketches to reproduce the machines. I thought with some plasticard to make the machines and a box of Perry Plastic Late Medieval Mercenaries and a box of Late Medieval Mounted Knights I could make a suitable warband.
The Leader had to be Ludovico Sforza himself leading a unit of knights.
These would be the shock melee unit, best used against damaged and disrupted units to deliver the ‘Coup de Grace’. I gave them an ability to prevent wild charges, they needed to be in control.
Next up I needed the Bulwark of the Warband and chose to make these Milanese Militia pikemen, which I painted with combinations of white, red and green hose. I needed to add a magic element and picked up a Sorceress at Cavalier. I found that Caterina Sforza (Ed: Ludovico’s illegitimate niece). was a noted Alchemist so she would have the ability to confuse an opponent’s unit, to heal a unit and to provide a long range powerbolt.
I needed more shooting potential and decided on a unit of scouts. For these I used Handgunners and gave them the invisible ability (due to gunsmoke). This meant they could only be targeted in melee or via magic. If I placed them in difficult ground they would be a handy irritant.
On to the machines.
My first build over a weekend was the Armoured Car. I mocked up the conical design using paper templates, then drew them out onto 20 thou Plastikard and scribed on the planking. I painted the planks individually then washed with brown mixed with Flow Enhancer, producing a wood grain effect. The vehicle is fitted with a number of small calibre guns to provide all round fire, for which I used plastic tubing. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’, the vehicle produced from the plans could move but firing all guns simultaneously would result in deafness for the crew. I decided mine would be propelled by captured Turkish Galley slaves. I gave the crew a fearful ability as I reasoned that they would be as afraid as their opponent of this machine. I mounted the model on a landscaped foiled cake base. This would prove to be a good flank guard.
The second build was an Airscrew. I wanted this to be like a Helicopter gunship, flying over a terrain item to deliver a lethal volley of crossbow bolts before retreating to safety. This proved to be a more difficult build as I had to get the sail pattern right. I found a ‘how to’ rubber band powered model video and plan on the internet and used this as a basis. The central spindle was plastic tube and the fighting platform was plasticard. The crew were modified Perry plastics. I gave them the fearful ability, who wouldn’t be scared, and added a sharpshooter ability to provide a lethal hit. The Airscrew fits onto a bolt on a cake stand base.
So this was my starter warband and as the campaign progressed I was able to add additional units.
I added a unit of Light infantry in which I mixed javelin armed troops with blade armed ones. I used Gripping Beast Dark age Infantry javelin figures cut off at the wrist and glued onto the arm of the Perry figures. I scratchbuilt the large oval shields from plastic card with a Milanese design and I repeated the white, red and green hose patterns I’d used on the Militia Pike.
Next I needed some Mercenaries. There would also be English Bills and Bows – Dogs of War that had survived the Wars of the Roses.
Finally, I added a unit of Elite Foot Knights, probably German Mercenaries.
The next machine I made was a 33 barrelled organ gun. On ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this machine really worked well with an 11 shot salvo firing shot the size of a tennis ball, with devastating effect.
I made the guns using plastic tubing. The design has a rotating centre section so that after firing, the barrels rotate for the next salvo. This was a complete plasticard scratch build and the crew come from Perry plastics, all mounted on a cd.
Finally, I made a War Chariot. Here, a geared mechanism controls rotating blades like a food processor. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this was another lethal weapon.
This was another complete scratchbuild and I decided to paint the horses and horse armour in black again mounted on a cd.
Well that’s it, though I’m still thinking of adding a unit of three Ornithopters as another scout unit.
John reports on A Border Reiver Skirmish using En Garde Rules…
I’d always been interested in this period since before I started wargaming. Picking up George MacDonald Fraser’s book ‘The Steel Bonnets’ fired my enthusiasm , I started with modified Redoubt figures and scratch built some buildings and it became a club game for 2002. I sold off figures and buildings to purchase a collection of Outpost figures which promptly gathered dust. The advent of Osprey En Garde rules and finding I have links to two Border Reiver families sparked the flame again.
The Border Reivers occupy a unique position in British history. Before the Union of England and Scotland, the area between the nations was effectively a buffer state with it’s own set of rules. Over population and depredations from either nation took its toll. Cattle rustling, kidnap and blackmail ( in its original sense a protection racket) became commonplace. Fortified buildings, the simplest being a two storey Bastle house, of which there are more than 900, provided some shelter from Reivers who became very skilled in their craft and earned them the reputation of being the finest light horsemen in Europe.
En Garde is an Osprey blue book set of rules for small scale swashbuckling skirmish games for about 20 figures maximum. Each figure has a stat line which provides its rank which can range from peasant to Headman. The higher the rank, the more capable the figure. Each figure has a combat pool (cp) for hand to hand combat. When this takes place, the figure is allocated a number of chits for either attack or defence, which allow the figure to use ploys such as riposte and feint to give a sword fight feel. The higher the cp value, the more attack or defence options for the figure. Each figure has an initiative value which is a dice roll modifier to determine which gets the first hit in. Fight and Shoot stats give modifiers to the attack and AR is an armour protection value. Finally, higher ranked figures can add attributes for example beguiling means that an opponent is less likely to attack the figure, afraid of the consequences. All these features allow the player to develop the character of a figure. A bit like role playing.
This scenario is set in the late 16th century Border between Scotland and England about 8 miles east of Carlisle. Richie Graham of Brackenhill (Brackenhill Tower still stands and is a successful self-catering holiday retreat) runs a successful blackmail business. The Bells of Gilsland have failed to make payment and Richie and the blackmailers decide to teach them a lesson. Richie sits in the top three all-time Border bad guys and he’s accompanied by Thomas ‘The Merchant’ Hetherington (possible distant relative of the author) who collected blackmail payments on his behalf.
Bastle house with Barnkin wall containing cattle in the centre of a 3’ square board. One boulder close to the bastle, two patches of Heather in the corners and a Long house with fencing containing sheep.
Time and Weather
Weather – a 6 is rolled which is wind and rain. Line of sight reduced to 24” and all shooting has a -1 modifier
Time of day – a 3 is rolled which is dusk. Line of sight reduced to 18”
Typical conditions for a border raid!
The Bell reivers, Willie Red Cloak’s wife and young son (both classed as peasant) are in the Bastle. Two peasants are in the Long House
The Bells win initiative and Jamie fires through the window at the leading Graham. He rolls 4 and 2. +1 for skill, – 1 for weather, – 1 >12” away. Gives a score of 5. He needs more than 6 to cause a wound so it’s a fail. Willie runs to take cover behind the Barnkin wall. There is not enough room for all the gang so Richie does an ordered run into the cover provided by the heather.
The Bells win initiative. Jamie concentrates his aim on the Barnkin gate. Bell’s son is sent to light the warning beacon beside the bastle. Richie orders a group move and the Grahams run around the Barnkin wall.
The Grahams win the initiative and continue to run around the Barnkin wall. As they pass the gate, Jamie Bell fires at Wat. He rolls a 9 +1 for aimed shot, +1 for skill – 1 for weather -1 for the gate – 2 for distance gives a score of 7 A hit is scored but the armour saves Wat.
The son is in serious danger but the Bells win the initiative. The boy gets back inside the Bastle and the drawbar is slammed shut behind the door. The Grahams prepare “Fire to the Door”. They are going to smoke out the Bells, this tactic was known as “scum fishing”.
The Bells win initiative and a group move is ordered for the armed Bells to descend the ladder into the Barnkin and take on the Grahams directly. This is overheard by the Grahams and a group move is ordered to the gate with Jock of the Peartree (crack shot) in the lead. He waits by the gate looking for a target. Thomas (The Merchant Hetherington) waits by the ground floor door to make sure the smoke builds up. Screams from inside the Bastle alert the two peasants in the long house who move, just out of view towards Thomas.
The Bells win initiative and move towards the Barnkin gate. Its slippery, the cows are in the way so only a short move is possible. Jock of the Peartree fires his latch and rolls a double 1! The latch bolt is stuck and Jock will have to spend a move clearing the latch to fire again. Wat attempts to climb over the wall but fails his dexterity roll and falls, grazing his shins.
The Grahams win initiative. Archie fires at Davy. He rolls 6 and 6 = 12 – 1 for weather = 11 – 6 = 5 a hit has been scored. Davy’s armour is 1 plus 1 for the shield = 2. Final wound score = 3. A light wound. Willie Bell opens the gate and moves into combat with Wat. Willie’s combat pool is DDDA (where D is defence, A is attack) in Case Richie attacks. He rolls 8 + 4 for his fight ability = 12. Wat defends his combat pool is DD. He rolls 6 + 2 for his fight ability. A wound is caused to Wat but his armour saves 2 and it’s a light wound. Richie attacks Willie with a combat pool of ADDD He rolls 10 + 4 fight ability gives a total score of 14. Willie rolls a 5 from 2 dice attempting a parry and using one of his remaining defence chits, +4 for fight ability = 9. A difference of 5. Willie has an armour of 3 giving a wound score of 2 a light wound. There are no more attack chits available so combat ends for the turn.
The Grahams win initiative. Jock fires at Davy. He rolls 11 + 2 for sharpshooter -1 for weather -6 = 6. A wound has been caused. Davy has an armour of 2 which gives a final score of 4 a Grievous wound. When this is combined with the light wound he is killed. Because Willie has a light wound, Richie has the initiative and launches an attack and goes for the subdue option. If he can kidnap Willie Bell, He could get a ransom and the outstanding blackmail payments. Willie uses his Weapon Master attribute to attempt a riposte.
On two dice Richie rolls 7, not great. Willie only rolls 1, a difference of 6. Willie already has a light wound so his combat factor is reduced to 3 a difference of 7. A subdue attack is a -1 modifier and Willies armour is 3. A final score of 3 another light wound. Two light wounds become one grievous wound and Willie is subdued.
It looks grim for the Bells now. Ritchie has his dagger at Willie’s throat and a retreat would be covered by the two latchmen. Meanwhile at the Bastle door, Thomas the Merchant is fighting off the two farm hands. His combat pool is ADD He attacks one of the farm hands whose combat pool is D. He rolls 8 with two dice plus a combat factor of 3 = 11. The Farmhand rolls 10 with two dice but with no armour, a hit is scored. The farmhand is stunned. The second farmhand attacks He rolls 5 from two dice but Thomas only manages 2 from two dice. His fight skill of 3 saves the day and as there are no attack chits left combat ends for the turn.
The Bells now need to take a morale test they need to roll under 7 on a modified roll of two dice. They roll 3 and pass.
The initiative roll is tied but the Grahams have a higher initiative leader now so win the initiative. Thomas goes on the offensive with AAA in his combat pool against the farmhands. He attacks the unwounded farmhand and rolls 11 The Farmhand Combat pool D rolls 4 from two dice and dies. Thomas then attacks the remaining farmhand who is already wounded. Thomas rolls 5 + 3 for fight = 8. The farmhand rolls 6 – 1 fight value for already wounded. It’s a second light wound and this now becomes grievous.
It’s all over and the Grahams win the day. It’s going to be a long hard winter for the Bells!
We’ve played a few games at the club and it’s a game I’m keen to bring back once we are allowed to meet again. I’m keen to run a mini campaign involving two feuding families a group of outlaws known as ‘Mad Meg’s Bairns’ and the Hebburn garrison (complete with sleuth hounds).
Stephen gives us the breakdown (and pictures) of a flexible medieval force he’s been working on.
I’ve used lockdown to finish off and round out my armies rather than start new ones.
One of those is a collection that performs two functions – it can be an early Hundred Years War force or it can be a fantasy human army.
I thought I’d present it here in its fantasy form because over lockdown it’s the fantasy elements that I have finished off.
It’s in Dragon Rampant sized units and I’ve included details from those rules.
Sir Artos FitzUrsus
Sir Artos is the leader and a unit in his own right. There’s a foot and mounted version (with his mastiffs – Brutus, Cassius, and Victor). On foot I have him as an Elite Foot unit. Mounted he’s Elite Rider with the Level Headed upgrade.
Surrounding Sir Artos are his loyal knights. Some are household knights, some are lords of local manors, but all are loyal to their lord. I have two units of these – both foot and mounted versions. The mounted knights are Elite Riders and the foot knights are Elite Foot.
Hobilars and Currours
These are full time sergeants riding mounts given to them by their lords. In normal duties they patrol the borders and marches and are amongst the best horsemen around. They carry a mix of weapons – spears, swords, and crossbows. There’s two units of them and they are Heavy Riders with the mounted missiles upgrade.
The Cult of Flagellants
This band of religious fanatics are led by Brother Crowley. They are easily whipped into a frenzy, convert the unbelievers with their blades, and fight to the death. Always. They are a Bellicose Foot unit. Very bellicose.
The Yeomanry of the Shires
Independent landowners and wealthy farmers who are proud of their status and independence but also loyal to Sir Artos as tenant-in-chief. They carry longbows and all have some form of armour, whether a leather jack, a quilt gambeson or an old chain shirt. They are rated as Heavy Missiles.
The Company of St Mercure
These are actually mercenaries from the continent. They are professionals and all equipped with crossbows. As professional mercenaries they are well equipped and have a good level of armour protection as well. Such is their experience at scouting that they can be used as an advance party to check on enemy positions. They are classified as Heavy Missile troops but can be split up to form Scouts.
The back bone of the army! These troops form the main portion of the infantry and are always first in the fight or found holding the bridgehead against the savage hordes. The captains are the younger sons of noble families, and the rank and file are fit and strong men from the countryside willing to fight for their lord. They are Heavy Foot with the Offensive upgrade.
The Guild of Mages
Within Sir Artos’ lands is a prefectory of the Guild of Mages. The building is in free-hold but the surrounding lands and farms that support the prefectory are rented from Sir Artos. The order is run by Maxwell Crochety who goes everywhere mounted on a beaten old nag.
They are a unit of Light Foot with the Short Range Missile upgrade (to represent firebolt type spells) and also the full Spellcaster upgrade (it is a guild of mages after all!).
So that’s Sir Artos FitzUrsus and his troops. There’s quite a lot. I can either pick and choose specific units for a small battle or they can all come out for a bigger rumble.
Declare Sir Artos your liege lord and you shall live!