Thursday, September 1, 2016

She is Ever Faithful

I completed another of my Reaper fantasy figures for D&D. This one is a female paladin. I think she turned out pretty well and looks like she's ready to kick some unbeliever's butt.

On the paint table, clear base attached.
Reverse view.
In my Dwarvenforge Caverns terrain.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been mounting my figures on clear, acrylic bases. I love the look of this, but have had some issues with superglue causing the acrylic to "frost".  Fortunately, my wife owns a watch parts/jewelry maker's store. I mentioned the problem to her and she suggested this stuff...

It is used to glue watch crystals in place, among other things. It does not set as quickly as superglue, but it dries completely clear and comes with a super-fine applicator, as small as a hypodermic needle. I found the best way to use it is to apply a little to each foot of the mini and then wait 30 seconds or so until the glue gets tacky. Then press it to the acrylic base and hold for maybe another 30 seconds to a minute. Worked like a charm! It doesn't take much to get a good hold. The package says that any squeeze out can be cleaned off with rubbing alcohol once it sets. I haven't tried that yet, but when I do I'll let you know how that worked.

If you want to order online from my wife's store, go here. They have a nice selection of hobby tools and other items that are useful for miniature gaming. And yes, that was a shameless plug. ; ) If you do visit, please feel free to make suggestions of hobby/modeling items you're looking for.

Until next time, carry on!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Escape from the Big City

We had a game of All Things Zombie: Final Fade Out last Friday. Players were my wife, my middle son, my good friend, and myself. We each had a Rep 4 Star with the weapons on the mini and 2 attributes. We selected attributes from a list I found some time ago of all the various attributes from the Two Hour Wargames library. It made for some good characterization.

I set up an urban board and we selected the scenario "Escape!" from the ATZ rulebook (pg. 68). Since I was playing with a group, I didn't capture a turn by turn, but here are some highlights...

Board from the 'East' edge.
Players must enter from lower left and exit at upper right for the first half of the scenario.
Players move onto the board and hunker behind a car in the parking lot.
Starting form the lower left and going clockwise - Zeke, Ed, Rob, and Monique.
There were 24 starting zombies generated! We decided to set them up differently from the stated rules. We rolled for each board sector (1-6) to see how many zeds were in that sector. Sectors 7-9 would be zed free at the start. This gave a nice scattering of zeds all across the board instead of a ring of death encircling the party 12 inches away.

View from the 'north-east' corner, behind the gas station.
Monique and Rob rushed forward and quickly killed a few zeds.
As the game progressed, the zeds closed on us quickly. We opted to rush along the east board edge to the gas station. Our plan was to run behind the gas station and around the brown building, evading and confusing the zombies. Then we would rush to the other corner to escape. Essentially we were going to make a big left hook, hoping to avoid the bulk of the zeds.

As we crossed the street into the gas station, lightning struck the brown building in front of us, blinding us all! We were in melee, with a crowd closing from our left. Stunned, unable to move or fight for a turn, things were suddenly looking very grim.

What you can't see in this photo is the crowd of zeds closing in.
Fortunately, we had knocked down the zeds we were in melee with before the lightning struck.
It seemed pretty certain we were doomed. But then, in true ATZ style, something unexpected happened. Deus ex Machina!

A PEF that had been hovering behind the HMMV at the intersection strolled into view and resolved as 3 survivors. After a "Talk the Talk" test we "exchanged pleasantries", much to our relief. Had we gone to a "Walk the Walk", they would have destroyed us, since we were only citizens. Lucky for us, they came up behind the zeds that were closing on us. After a round of "popping the weasel" and a bit of melee, they cleared the way.

With a friendly wave, we dashed through the gas station, leaving them to carry on down the street.
The above is the aftermath as the survivors moved on down the street.
I got so excited I forgot to take any pics during the action.
After a series of "Fast Moves" the group exited the upper right corner without incident. We had survived the first half of the scenario! We would have likely lost some of us, or maybe the entire group, had not those survivors showed up just when they did.

For the second half, the board remained set up essentially the same as before. Now the object was to enter from the upper left corner and exit from the lower right in the picture below. We generated starting zombies (22 if I recall) and again placed them in board sectors 1-6 by random die roll.
Set up for the second half.
The red circles are PEFs.
Our group started in the corner behind the large gray building. We decided on the same tactic - run along the southern edge (left hand in above pic), and then hook left to exit from the northeast (lower right) corner. As we ran behind the building, the zombies all moved towards the center of the board. We missed a couple activations and a PEF resolved as more zombies so by the time we cleared the building there was quite a mob waiting in the street for us.

Zombies shambling out of the fuel storage area.
Walkers (and PEF) in the street.
Unfortunately, I didn't take many pics of the second half. But once we broke into the street, our plan was in shambles. It was going to be a fight to the death to get through the crowd of zeds. After a loooonnnng melee battle, we broke free and ran across the intersection towards the gas station. Ed, our melee master, led the way, beheading zeds left and right with his katana. By shear dumb luck none of us was overwhelmed in the melee and we slowly, but steadily, ground them down.

Approaching the gas station. Almost home free!
Near the yellow cab you can see the aftermath of the massive zed melee.
In the end we all survived! It might have been a first for one of our ATZ games. It was surprising, since I threw Ed (my character) into the crowd of zeds, expecting him to sacrifice himself for the sake of the party. But then he lived! Go figure...

Fortunately, we never met any hostiles other than zeds. It could have gone very differently otherwise. MVP could possibly go to Ed for fool-hardiness and dumb luck, but the real saviors in the game were those 3 strangers who emerged at just the right moment and then faded away, all ATZ-style.

A good time was had by all. I'm sure we will be playing again soon.

Until next time, carry on!

Monday, July 4, 2016

D&D On the Deck

Back in 2014 I started an "Old Guys D&D" group in celebration of the 40th anniversary of D&D. I called upon some of my friends from high school who used to play D&D. It started as a lark - an excuse to get together for a weekend and re-live the glory days. We enjoyed the game so much - and loved the 5th Edition rules so well - that we decided to start a campaign.  On our second outing, one of my friends brought his high school aged daughter along. She had never played, but enjoyed the game even though she was playing with a bunch of "old guys". After that we decided to include all of our daughters and call it "Dads and Daughters D&D", or "D&DD&D". It has been a tremendous way to introduce new players to the game, spend time with good friends, and enjoy our families.

We've only been playing every few months since we live a few hours away from one another. I've been DMing us through The Hoard of the Dragon Queen and it has been pure delight. This past weekend my friend who lives in the Hocking Hills area of southern Ohio hosted us. We had beautiful weather, a beautiful setting and an entire Saturday...
Desk space set for a day of gaming.
The tents in the background were accommodation for a couple of us heartier types.
View from the DM's chair.
You'll notice dragon mugs among the "old guys".
I bought them as gifts for our first game.
Good thing too, since our host is a master brewer!
The Dwarvenforge Caverns tiles were a big hit.
For a group so large, it was good to have something people could play with while waiting for their turn.
You can also see how well the clear acrylic bases look on the character models.
Mid-afternoon. The sun is taking a toll on the players, but they soldier on.
The party has been trying to get a long rest but keeps getting interrupted. 
Deep in the cave complex a Roper attacks!
The kids were having fun with the pipe cleaners.
The white area is 15 feet below the cavern shelf to the left.
The paladin is dragged into the pit!
Our host's daughter brought her boyfriend along and he joined the party as a paladin.
I can assure you her father had nothing to do with his character being nearly killed.
Smiling players and a pensive DM.
A good time was had by all.
As you can see, the party is huge! 9 characters for this game, 8 players on the day. My daughter was not able to be there this time, but we kept in touch with her via text throughout the day and kept her character in the game.

It can be a challenge running a game this large, but we all get along very well and cooperation makes it fun. Also, one of my friends has created an awesome spreadsheet that tracks everyone's abilities. He is sitting to my right in the above photo and acts as secretary throughout the game. It works very well and frees me to focus on the story telling.

The moral of the story here is:  Get out and play! If you're thinking you'd like to get a game going, ask! People may be more interested than you think. Keep it light and fun and about spending time with people you love and you can't go wrong.

Until next time, carry on!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Rebasing Project

Miniature basing has always been a struggle for my perfectionist brain. As long as I'm playing on a table where the terrain matches the bases of my figures, it's fine. But when I'm playing on a desert world with woodland bases...well, it just bothers me.

So I decided to try a solution I stumbled upon a while ago: Clear Acrylic Bases. Since I play All Things Zombies on a variety of terrain, I decided to convert some of my zombie bases to see how I liked the results. I ordered 100 bases from Litko and I was off and running.
Here are zombies with my original base style.
These were to resemble asphalt and cement for urban terrain.
Fine for the city, not so much for the woods.
This was the hard part because of the idea of taking a knife to finished minis! 
Zombies with Clear Acrylic Bases.

Zombies surge out of the woods, across the gravel berm and onto a paved road.
You get a sense of how the clear bases allow figures to flow through different terrain.
I really like how this turned out. I've converted all my zombies and am starting on my survivors/gangers. It is not a perfect solution - that would be models that stood without any base at all - but I like how this works. In fact, I like it so well I've converted my Reaper fantasy figures I use for D&D... 

Reaper Fantasy figures.
The characters blend seamlessly into my Dwarvenforge Caverns.
I like how the eye is drawn to the model and not the base.
Works equally well with the Dwarvenforge City Builder.
One has to really look closely to see the bases.
Even as the dwarf moves from the sidewalk to the street, you get a sense he is "in" the environment,
not just sitting on top of it.
I am thrilled with this look and will be working on converting all my fantasy and All Things Zombie collections. Traditional basing, with that diorama-like quality, is cool for display models. But for game pieces, I really like how this works.

I'm interested in what you think or if others have tried this. Let me know your thoughts.

Until next time, carry on!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Dwarvenforge Caverns

I'm continuing to collect Dwarvenforge modular terrain. I've accumulated a fair bit from their caverns set. It's great stuff and I thought I'd share a few pics just for fun.
Sample layout, aerial view.

Some Reaper figures make their way through the caves.
(STILL need to finish those bases...)

Crossing the bridge.
"You shall not pass!"
One of my favorite Reaper figs posed to hide that awful white base. : )

Until next time, carry on!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

All Things Zombie Returns!

I pulled together a couple friends Friday night for some All Things Zombie. The players were both new to the game so I played as the referee and ran the scenario. I created a Search Mission where the players had to secure a safe place to stay for the night. I loaded up a farmer and his wife as one PEF, a rogue cop as another, and a mom and her two kids as a third. Not all of these would automatically be generated by PEF resolution, but were possibilities on a d6 chart I made. The rest of the entries on the chart were zombies.

This was a one off scenario in a rural area with the farmhouse as the main feature. Since I was refereeing, I said the farmer and his wife (Mr. and Mrs. Brown) would be in the house if they did not generate as a PEF. Too bad, considering what happened...

Both of our heroes, Shawn and Ed, are stars with Rep 5. Shawn has a sawed-off shotgun and a cricket bat. Ed has a katana and a pistol. I did not use attributes as I was keeping things simple for my friends who were unfamiliar with the game.

I took a few pics throughout the game, but did not really log each turn in full. I think I've captured the flow of it though.

My idea was that the heroes would have to gain entry to the house and convince the Browns, one way or the other, to let them stay, all while dodging zombies and trying to stay alive. Of course, as is often the case in ATZ, it did not turn out that way at all...
The Farmstead. The main road runs east to west - right to left in this photo.
A look down the lane.
The house is a Stoelzel's Structures farmhouse.
The shed is scratch-built.
The rest of the terrain is random bits I've collected over the years.
My collection of zombies and humans.
Not a huge hoard, but plenty for most of my games.
Our heroes, Shawn and Ed, started on the east end of the highway.
They opted to cut though the hedge and run along the tree line on the east board edge.
Wise choice, considering all the zeds generated at the start of the game were randomly placed in the road.
This probably should have been a sign of how the luck was going to go for this game.
Shawn and Ed make their way towards the propane tank and the back of the shed.
Suddenly the farmhouse erupts into flame!
(We rolled doubles for activation and drew an event card.)
Tough break for our heroes, considering they were planning to stay there for the night.
Even tougher break for the Browns, who are about to lose their home.
You can see the PEFs hovering around the house as it goes up in smoke.
Then the alarm on the car in front of the house started to shriek.
(We had another doubles and an event card.)
Things went down the crapper pretty quickly.
A couple turns later zombies are closing in.
Our heroes have crossed the field, killing a few zeds on the way.
The PEF in front of the house resolves as a mom and her two preteen children.
Marie and the kids choose to join our heroes, but the relief of having a bigger group is short lived.
The zombies around the shrieking car pounce on Marie and the kids!
Before Shawn or Ed can do anything, the girl is ripped to shreds while Marie screams curses and the boy fights for his life.
Shawn leaps forward to help the boy but is bashed and stunned by a lucky zed.
Ed wades in and barely keeps the zeds from feasting on the girl.
Marie fires her pistol wildly, hitting nothing.
With the burning house and the car alarm, it's chaos!
Meanwhile, from the field, the zeds are quietly closing in on the noise. 
The survivors manage to finish off the zeds in melee and move to cover near the car.
Ed is able to hot wire the car to shut the alarm off as the rest of the gang blasts away.
A flurry of bullets and shotgun blasts takes down a number of zeds, but they keep coming.
It's a bloodbath in the yard as the flames fully engulf the house.
The heat is terrific, but our heroes fight on.
A view of the propane tank and fuel yard from the woods to the east.
Everyone remembers the house is on fire and this is a fuel yard, right?
Finally, the last zed is felled.
The survivors move to investigate the shed.
Maybe they could stay here for the night?
But what about the heat from the house? Isn't this a fuel shed?!
The survivors choose the better part of valor.
After a few more turns, they open the shed to find enough fuel for the van.
Surprisingly, the keys to the van are in the ignition.
Taking what they can, the heroes pile into the van and head off down the road, churning gravel. Behind them, as they turn onto the highway, a fireball erupts into the sky. The sound of the explosion rolls like thunder through the night.

"I guess there was propane in that tank after all," says Ed calmly.

"Yup," says Shawn, equally passive.

Marie lays on the back seat holding her son, the two of them weeping quietly.

So, not the most successful mission. Although, to have a fully fueled vehicle is nothing to dismiss lightly. Still, I sure hope the Browns weren't home after all!

We had a great time! My friends are hooked and want to play again. I'm hopeful that we might even get a regular game night going.

Until next time, carry on!