Saturday 28 July 2018

Bits and Pieces

Everyone get ready for a blog post with no real theme or purpose or anything!

Having done the "quick and intensive" route for a while to get my 7TV cast ready for the Apocalypse Day, I've spent some time doing "slow and meandering" instead.

First of all, here's a couple of Napoleonic chaps. I actually started these a few years(!) ago, and came across them in a drawer while I was looking for something else.

"Have you seen a drummer anywhere? He's about this big"

They were actually much easier than I thought they'd be to paint! I think in the intervening time I've developed a bit more patience for this kind of thing. That or my eyesight has deteriorated and I can't tell that they're terrible.

Next, it's... a bit of wall. I got this at Vapnartak this year from a company I hadn't encountered before called Templar Wargames.

I actually really like this piece! It's a nice, simple piece of terrain, and the quality of the casting was great. I had to do very little to get it ready to paint. I also like that it doesn't have anything on it to tie it to any particular period, so I can imagine it on the table for almost any period.

Right, enough gushing. Last thing to roll off the production line is a trip back to one of my longer-running projects - the French in Bolt Action.

As Bolt Action is a platoon-level WW2 game, "three squads and a machine gun" is a pretty obvious place to start, and tends to work pretty well. It's therefore somewhat embarrassing that it's taken me over three years to add a machine gun to this force.

"I'm pretty sure we should have been here earlier"

Still, better late than never. As usual I've separately magnetised the extra crew so I can reflect casualties more easily (something that is useful on a disappointingly regular basis).

It occurs to me that it's been a while since I last played Bolt Action, but I still have a hefty pile of unpainted things for it. I might have a go at tackling that next... and then again I might do something completely different.

That was a great little anecdote, wasn't it?

Anyway, numbers. I've added six more painted models here, so that puts me onto...

Painted: 81
Acquired: -2

The "acquired" total goes up a bit as I picked up a couple of cut-price die cast cars recently, and they're sitting in boxes until I decide what to do with them. Still, the "painted" total went up more, so it's all good!

Right, stand by for something more focused next time... 

Monday 9 July 2018

How Hard Can It Be? - 7TV Apocalypse Day

EXTERIOR. NIGHT. A stage with a screen and projector is set up in the central square of a small survivor colony. THE STIG and DAVE THE AA BLOKE stand at the back of the stage. Front and centre are JEZZA, JAMES and HAMSTER. They address the audience. 

JEZZA: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Grand Top Gear Tour, the best car show in the end… of the world! 


HAMSTER: Yes, welcome. As you’ve no doubt noticed, the bombs have fallen, the seas rose, and radioactive monsters now roam the land. But that didn’t seem to any of us to be a good reason to stop driving cars and messing about for your viewing pleasure. 

JAMES: That’s right. So, we’ve gathered the survivors from our film crew, broken the Stig out of his holding pen beneath the ruins of Broadcasting House, and now bring you tales of our adventures out in the wastes of this exciting new post-apocalyptic world. 

JEZZA: Now we’re touring the settlements and refugee camps so we can show everyone what we’ve been up to, and we really hope you enjoy it. 

HAMSTER: Specifically we hope you enjoy it enough to give us some food. 

JAMES: Yes, food would be nice. And water. And fuel. 

JEZZA: Anyway, enough of James’s pitiful begging. Let’s get on with the show! 


JAMES: We’ve got a great show for you tonight – I’ll be test driving a Prius with armour plating welded to it, and the Stig will be putting some of the best stripped-down buggies with spikes all over them through their paces out on the test track. 

HAMSTER: But first… what we all really need to know these days is the best way to survive outside the walls of our little communities. Everyone wants to get out there and find the best supplies, and be able to get them back home without them being taken by angry gentlemen with mohawks. 

JEZZA: Yes, so to find out, we decided to beef up some vehicles, and get out there. 

JAMES: Sadly, this didn’t work very well. It wasn’t long until we were left with only Jezza’s car – 

JEZZA: - proving that it was the best – 

JAMES: - and then even that broke down. 

JEZZA: Not important. 

HAMSTER: Luckily, we were rescued by our new friend Dave – 

(DAVE waves) 

HAMSTER: - and so we were back on track and ready to do some road warrior stuff. So the producers told us to find a likely spot for some scavenging, where we would be given a series of challenges. 

JEZZA: Play the tape! 


I should probably explain what's going on there. Yesterday, due to effective badgering from Kieron, I found myself at the 7TV Apocalypse Day, a sort of campaign/playtest arrangement for the 7TV Apocalypse set (coming to Kickstarter in the next few months, apparently!).

This required me to put together a cast, and that cast had to include at least one vehicle using the new vehicle modification rules. I was all set to cobble together some kind of biker gang or... something, when Kieron had an idea. I promptly stole said idea, and the Grand Top Gear Tour was born!

I had a lot of fun putting all this together, and it represented about a month of fairly manic painting. Here's a thrilling walkthrough of the cast members and how I represented them in the rules...

Star - Jezza

"He might just be a massive idiot." - Hamster
"Power!" - Jezza

Jezza is the main face of the show, and takes a pretty no-nonsense approach to proceedings.

For the model I figured the key elements to capture were curly hair, jeans, and a tweedy jacket. Fortunately I was able to find reasonable approximations of all of those on the Wargames Factory Apocalypse Survivors sprue. I cobbled these together and added a few bits of equipment around the waist to give him a bit more chance of surviving after the end! 

Rules-wise, I started with the Tough Detective profile and basically filed off abilities and stats until he was cheap enough to fit in the cast and ineffective enough to sensibly portray a blundering oaf in his late fifties...

Of all the abilities he ended up with, I think I only ever used Homework - but the boost in starting plot points from this ability was so useful that I certainly still got my money's worth from him.

Co-star - James

"Have you noticed that he does a lot of rummaging around and muttering to himself these days?" - Jezza
"Still seems to have that jumper as well" - Hamster

For James, the key attributes I was looking for were long hair, and nothing too dynamic in terms of pose. I found both of them lurking in my heap of unpainted models, in the form of a rioter from Offensive Miniatures. 

Even the cricket pad fits! It was helpful to have a subject who always wears the same jumper, too...

In rules terms, James is an Investigative Academic, again with abilities removed to save ratings, and a weapon swap to match the baseball bat carried by the model. 

James actually ends up with a pretty potent combination of skills - he can be deployed forward, activates for free if he's more than 6" from everyone else, gets to re-roll one die per turn, and can spend a plot point for an extra move. It's therefore something of a shame that a baseball bat is of such limited utility against the heavily armed vehicles that were whizzing about all over the place on the day.

Co-star - Hamster

"Where did he get that t-shirt?" - Jezza
"I'm more concerned about the helmet and goggles. He looks like he's about to be fired out of a cannon." - James 

This was the hardest model to come up with, and in the end I basically cheated. For someone whose defining feature is "being short", I did at least have an option in the form of the child body from the Apocalypse Survivors set, which left me in search of a head. I gave up the futile search for something that looked even vaguely like what I wanted after a while, and fell back on a French tank commander's head from Warlord. 

I made an attempt at a "Braniac" t-shirt (something a smarter person might have tried before fastening the arms in the way) to drive the point home, but it was this model that convinced me to write character names on the bases.

In rules terms, Hamster is a Crackpot Inventor, again with a skill removed (this time it was "invisible", which seemed a bit of a stretch to keep anyway). 

He's focused on using gadgets and repairing vehicles, which you'd expect to be useful post-apocalypse skills. In fact, he spent most of his time firing rocket launchers at people, something he turned out to be pretty good at.

Extra - The Stig

"He does seem to have taken to all this really well, doesn't he?" - Hamster
"Well you have to remember, he was eating people before it all started" - Jezza

This was easily the most fun model to put together. He's a combination of parts from the Apocalypse Survivors and Biker Gang sets, with a head from Crossover Miniatures.

Since it's such a simple and easily recognisable look, it really helps to sell the idea of the cast. He's also missing his right sleeve, which is a nice little accidental homage to Mad Max that no one really notices.

In the game, Stig is just a Failed Experiment by another name. 

He has a decent close combat attack and is also Fearsome, so he's able to do some damage if he gets in close. He's also at risk of attacking his friends, but so far no one has taken advantage of that!

Extra - Producer

"Where is he still getting the gold envelopes from these days?" - James

For the producer, I was able to use a Hasslefree model that I've had lying around for years.

He has the requisite lab coat, so that worked for me!

The producer is an Administrator, so he has no skills or abilities to speak of other than Leader 2 - so he's a more efficient way of getting the others moving without using up loads of plot points.

On the day he spent all his time hanging around ordering the others about, which worked out quite nicely.

Extra - Dave the AA Bloke

"Do you think someone should tell him the AA probably isn't still in business these days?" - Hamster
"Well he hasn't put down that chainsaw since we met him. So you first..." - Jezza

I needed someone else to add to the cast to fill things out, so I figured that someone to rescue the boys when their automotive adventures inevitably come unstuck was a good idea. Thus, Dave the AA Bloke was born! I had the idea of an obsessive AA patrolman who continued rescuing stranded motorists even after the end of the world - provided they could show an AA membership card of course.

He's another model from the Apocalypse Survivors set, painted up following more research into AA uniforms than is sensible (especially as he's wearing a hoodie, which the AA don't appear to issue to their patrols). I'm actually really pleased with how Dave came out, and I'm sure he'll be featuring in other games in the future.

In the game he counts as a Scientist, which gives him the ability to use gadgets and repair vehicles. It also means he has a Mind score of 4, which is a big help when driving!

Dave's driving style on the day, while undoubtedly effective, did make his spotless van even more mysterious. Speaking of which...

The AA Van

Having decided that I wanted an AA vehicle in the cast for comedic purposes, I then had to find one. A sensible person might have found a diecast AA van and used that, but again I went a different route, buying a bright orange tow truck from Asda's toy aisle. Painting it yellow was oddly satisfying, although it did require me to mess about glazing the front two windows so I could paint them out again.

The "Road Worrier"

"Do you think he meant 'warrior'?" - Hamster
"I don't know. I'm normally pretty worried when he's on the road." - James

As is their custom, the three boys had cobbled together apocalypse survival vehicles from second-hand cars. However, two of the three had already been destroyed before we join the action, leaving only Jezza's converted Jaguar XJ in the running. 

"Let me walk you through the product of my genius. For protection, I've added armour to the bonnet and doors and covered over the windows. 
"On the roof I've mounted a pair of Russian RPG launchers, which can be fired by the passengers, although they might have to slightly open the doors to manage it. There's also a mattress up there, so that if needed I can get some sleep out of the reach of grasping zombie fingers. 
"I have a sawn-off shotgun, just in case that's useful, and a few vital supplies stashed on the back. And crucially, on the front I've mounted an imposing and impressive spike.
"All in all, it's the perfect tool to ferry me and a select group of friends around in safety. So it's something of a disappointment that the engine doesn't actually work." - Jezza

This was another fun bit of work. This is actually a diecast Jag that I received as an employee of the month prize in my previous job a few years ago. Bit weird, but there you go. For reasons that even I don't really understand, I've never really liked seeing diecast cars used in games with their original paint jobs. I think it's because they have a distinctly different look from painted figures so it's too much of a reminder that they're all just toys. Anyway... because I'm weird, I had to repaint this car, so I changed it from blue to red in the process. I'd used various bits and pieces to armour it up, which was a very amusing exercise. 

The Big Rig 

In the game, the Road Worrier is towed behind the AA van. I counted the resulting spectacle as a big rig, which in the 7TV apocalypse rules is slow and heavy, but virtually indestructible and able to smash smaller vehicles aside. So that's fun.

I did have a slight problem in that the full thing is about 10.5" long. 7TV gives a 10" deployment area, which meant I had to start at an angle each time. Never mind!

So, you've met the cast - how did they do?

The 7TV Apocalypse Day

Before we start with this bit, some excuses. Somehow, on arriving at the Foundry HQ for the start of proceedings, I discovered that my phone battery was all but dead. So the few pictures I did manage to take are a bit hurried, and don't show a great deal. Still, there are other blogs on the subject with much more competent people writing them, so go and have a look there to see what went on!

Right then. We had time when we arrived for a look around the tables, and several of them were very nice indeed! We were also able to spend some time looking through the various holy gaming relics in the display cabinets - also very nice.

Eventually we were called to order, and told to find an opponent for the first game. I went to the table I most liked the look of, and found myself up against the Napoleonic Gang. Each table had a scenario ready, and ours was a chase. As defender, I needed to complete 5 laps of the table with my "big rig", passing by a string of objective markers each time.

Things didn't go entirely to plan from the off - countdown cards stopped me from moving for the first several turns, and then a well-placed oil slick slowed down Dave's van even further. But then, I had a stroke of luck - a lucky shot from the rocket launcher got through the Napoleonic truck's armour, blew it to pieces, and pretty much wiped out the gang. 

They were axed in short order, giving me a win!

Since this game was so short, we followed it with an infantry-only skirmish. Through extreme flukiness, I managed to win that too - although almost everyone in my cast was taken out. This game did include the sentence "I'll fire my laser pistol at the Stig", so it was definitely worth playing.

In game two, I came up against Scooby-Doo and friends.

Here we were fighting over objectives, mostly in the crossroads. This game included highlights such as Velma hiding behind a market stall which turned out not to be there (a countdown card removed it) and getting blown to smithereens, and Scooby himself jumping into the parked Road Worrier and tearing chunks out of Hamster and the Producer.

Once more, I was lucky and managed to axe the opposition! Since the Scooby Gang eventually won the day overall, this clearly means that I was in fact the best player and deserve a variety of important accolades. 

The third and final game was a four-way destruction derby, which I failed to take any photos of.

But from memory, it included Stig mysteriously finding himself at the wheel of a Hydra vehicle, a number of grenades being tossed into the Road Worrier, a multi-vehicle pileup and the big rig being set on fire. 

Despite all of that, it was still a draw as no one of any consequence was actually taken out!

Various prizes were given out for the best cast and nicest player etc. I didn't win any of those, but still managed to take away a Tamiya Abrams kit as a consolation prize, so look out for that showing up here in the future. 

All in all it was well worth the entry fee, and I'm now waiting impatiently for the 7TV Apocalypse Kickstarter. 

But never mind all that, what did getting the cast ready do for my painting scores?

Painted: 75
Acquired: -4