Photo post test for Tumblr to WordPress integration. Greg’s Blog.
Photo post test for Tumblr to WordPress integration. Greg’s Blog.
Doctor Who, especially the Doctor Who Miniatures Game ruleset, have been the bread and butter of my convention games ever since I reentered (with any seriousness) the miniatures wargaming hobby 2010. Designed by Graeme ? and Karl Perrotton, (currently the brains behind 7TV and Crooked Dice), DWMG was simple for new players to pick up and most importantly for me, really captured the feel of the Doctor Who universe. With its status as an unofficial, fan-designed product, it was cheap to adopt and supported by an active and friendly player-base. Even though regular updates ceased during the middle of the Matt Smith era, there are still a wealth of expansions and supplemental material available from the rules website.
Late last year, when Warlord Games announced their acquisition of the official license for a Doctor Who miniatures game, what should have been exciting news, instead had me feeling a bit anxious for all the long term unofficial producers of “Whovian” miniatures. Would Warlord go on an IP crusade and cut off the supply? The notion has already forced a few “not-Who” miniature projects underground.
After some conversation with friend, game designer, and fellow HAWK, Buck Surdu, I’ve decided to inventory what Doctor Who figures I already have so that I can plan to get the few items I need before figure lines potentially disappear.
First up are the Cybermen, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. These silver cyborg precursors to Star Trek’s Borg have appeared many times in my games from my 2011 “Victoria Hawkes and the Silver Menace” to my Schlegel’s Ferry offering for the 2016 HMGS Cold Wars convention.4
I’ve relied on the former Harlequin sculpts (now owned by Black Tree Designs) for most of my force. They have almost every design from the Mk.I Cyber-Mondasians from the Hartnell era, through the Tomb Cybermen and “Invasion” models, but I settled on the Cyber NeoMorphs from the 5th-7th Doctor series, since it was the best of the available sculpts and while not always 100% accurate, mix well in earlier Doctor’s adventures.
First up, are the 3 old FASA/Citadel Models I had lying around in my collection since the late 80s:
I find the detail on these guys to be a slight step above the Harlequin ones, but due to their age, they are a bit vertically challenged and measure up closer to the 25mm than to the 28mm standard.
Next, is the Harlequin/Blacktree Cyber Controller:
A very good mini overall, but he seems to be a bit skinnier and shorter than the rest of his troops.
Now for the bulk of the collection. Over the years, I’ve had some boughts of selective amnesia when placing my Doctor Who orders and have wound up purchasing these guys in groups of 10 every time I wanted something from Black Tree. The results are below:
There they are in all their glory. 24 painted Cyber NeoMorphs, ready to upgrade the universe. As a postscript, I found 6 more of their completed brethren in another box right after I took the photo, so my actual fieldable force numbers stretch to 30.
With this many troops to command, I decided early on to paint up the alternate sculpt as Cyber Lieutenants in order to give the Cyber Controller some flexibility in his force deployment.
Until recently, sources for the revived series Cybermen have been a bit scarce and anyone wanting to run a Cyberman game from the 10th Doctor forward has had to resort to a lot of “make do” measures. I’m sure this will change under the watch of Warlord Games, but I’m afraid that they will just do the redesigned Cyber model from the end of the Matt Smith era and bypass the tried and true Cybus industries Cyberman.
I was lucky enough to get in on MicroUniverse’s Doctor Who line while it was briefly available and obtain two of their Cybermen. While a bit more realistically proportioned than standard 28mm offerings, they did serve me well as a token presence for the cybermen in my early games of DWMG.
On the complete opposite end of the quality spectrum are these lovelies from the Doctor Who Adventures UK kid’s magazine. Packaged as a free giveaway along with some equally horrid Sontarans, these mildly bendy plastic monstrosities allowed me to bulk up my modern era cyber force quickly at a decent price. The results are really lacking. In fact, I had to draw on their eyes since they weren’t molded on.
On the positive side, I was able to obtain 20 “not-cybermen” from an undisclosed source, and they are an absolutely excellent rendition of the now classic Cybus model Cyberman. I hope to have these guys assembled and painted up in time for the 2016 Cold Wars convention.
Next up- Daleks!
As part of our HMGS Cold Wars line-up, the Schlegel brothers, I and several other HAWKs ran a series of games set at 50 and 100 year intervals during the history of the fictional town of Schlegel’s Ferry. I was there for most of it…
Remember that TV show where the guy from “Game of Thrones” lived forever as long as he remained within New York City? Well, neither do I, but I guess this would be a close approximation of that experience.
Official Game description:
Fri. 2:00 PM, 3 hrs, 6 players
GM: Buck Surdu and HAWKS
Age of Reason 25mm, Rules: Blood and Swash
Dutch and English settlers vie for control of the vital trading post and crossing of the Chesapeake Bay at Schlegel’s Ferry.
As part of the Pennsylvanian force, my troops took up position on the left northern flank and prepared to raid the town.
I managed to move my archer to the wood’s edge and had a good sniping position to lob arrows at the force, but I failed to do any real damage.
My musketeer didn’t last long either…
After my quick demise in the first hour and a half of the game, I took the next 200 years off, did some shopping and wouldn’t return again until 1914.
Sat. 2:00 PM, 3 hrs, 10 players
GM: Eric Schlegel and HAWKS
WWI 25mm, Rules: Blood and Swash Everyone is nervous, as the Great War has begun in Europe and wild reports of German spies in the area abound. US Marines, government agents and members of the local law enforcement agencies are sent to investigate.
This game was a mad-cap romp with a beached German U-boat, dastardly spies, corrupt cops, G-men and the Schlegel’s thrown in for good measure.
I took the role of the turn of the century Schlegel family whose goal was to capture one of the German sailors running about the town. The G-men and I joined forces to make our jobs easier, but we were soon dodging blazes set by the firebug “good” cops.
Just as in the last game, things didn’t go so well for my guys. A running shoot out with another faction of cops cost me two of my crew and learning that I actually had to catch the sailor alive had me doing a mad scramble at the end of the game. The german U-boat captain shelling the town with his deck gun didn’t help at all either!
After a brief dinner break, Eric Schlegel and I reset the table and then set up for my 7:00 game where Doctor Who (William Hartnell incarnation) comes to town…
Sat. 7:00 PM, 3 hrs, 8 players
GM: Greg Priebe and HAWKS
Modern 25mm, Rules: The Doctor Who Miniatures Game 2nd
A mysterious blue police box materializes in the junkyard on the
outskirts of town and a string of strange occurrences immediately
follow. Doctor Who collides with the world of Schlegel’s Ferry in
a madcap caper to mark the 50th anniversary of the Doctor’s
The basic gist of the game was that a few nights before, a meteor crashed nearby and showered the town with glowing green fragments. The Doctor, UNIT, and International Electromatics all raced about trying to collect the rocks. Meanwhile during all of the chaos, a team of bank robbers (who no one really ever paid attention to) landed by boat and tried to steal a shipment of gems from the new local bank. The other plot was that Schlegel’s Ferry was in the running for a “Best Town” award with the cops and some mysterious hooded figures ran about trying to keep order and repair any vandalism that would inevitably occur.
I used a rule modification from Crooked Dice’s campaign game that had the players playing for points that once earned, could be traded in for Luck Points if their situation proved dire.
Contrary to the playtest, this game started off as the least bloody of the series, each faction started far enough apart so that they could go about completing their objectives without much interference from the other players. The kid playing one faction of the police seemed a bit preoccupied with arresting the Doctor and his companions and completely missed the fact that the robbers had broken into the bank, but most player’s actually believed their far-fetched stories about being either inspectors for the contest or FBI.
Things eventually heated up when Kurt, playing the Schlegel family, completed his objectives of delivering a shipment of moonshine and pulling down a town statue, and then decided to rack up points by eliminating members of the rival factions. Several instances of vehicular homicide occurred.
In the end, International Electromatic’s nefarious plot is revealed, as a damaged Dalek is repaired and emerges from their warehouse at the edge of town. It soon goes beserk (can a Dalek really do that?) and tries to exterminate everyone in it’s path.
As the game winds down, the Doctor does manage to fashion a weapon from a few meteor fragments and car parts, but the cops finally get to doing something and crash their car into the diabolic pepper-pot from hell. Unfortunately, the Dalek shrugs off the impact and the car’s passenger’s are sent through the windshield to their deaths. Everyone though all was lost until out of nowhere, the surviving Schlegels slammed into the Dalek again, this time with a 1959 Chevrolet 300, which proved too much for the angry squid’s compromised armor.
In the final tally, the Schlegels won with 11 points, with International Electromatics and the Robbers tying for second place with 9 points each.
In part one of the story, I set about to build up a 28mm, SAGA-compatible, all-metal warband that would still provide enough troop variety to flesh out either Battle Troll or Song of Blades and Heroes games. With HMGS Cold Wars Convention approaching, I did the research and the math and thought I had a pretty good handle on what the market had to offer.
Hitting the dealer’s hall when it opened on Friday at noon, I made a B Line over to the Age of Glory stand and started combing through the Crusader miniatures rack. Going through the SAGA rules, I decided that the Anglo-Saxons or the Scots matched my playing style the best, but after mentioning my Norman ancestry (Willy’s my 28th great grandfather) the dealer gave me a look and asked why the heck I wasn’t going with the Normans.
As luck would have it, Steve from Age of Glory had worked up some special SAGA sets composed of the Crusader lines that matched the Gripping Beast boxed sets almost exactly and the Normans were marked down from $76 to $67. Since it was nearly twenty bucks less than the comparable Gripping Beast Pack, I grabbed an additional 8 pack of Normans with Crossbows (DAN005) too.
8 mounted milites (hearthguard) built from sets DAN100, DAN101, and DAN105
1 mounted warlord (the sword wielding bloke from DAN105)
8 dismounted spearmen in chainmail (warriors) built from a mix of DAN001 and DAN002
12 Unarmoured archers (levy) built from DAN006
So the normal “butcher’s bill” for a force (minus the crossbowmen) this size would be around $79 (still a good price vs GB), but getting it at a discount made it a complete steal.
Quite pleased with myself, I returned to the HAWKs roost in the Lancaster Host’s Paradise Room and thinking my mission complete, waited for Wally’s Basement’s flea market to open…this is where the insanity ensued:
On my first visit, I ran across someone selling four packs of Black Tree Designs Normans, two 12 packs of the unarmored slingers and two 12 packs of the unarmored archers and while it would give me way more peasant levy troops than I would ever need, I couldn’t pass up the price of $30 for the lot.
If that weren’t enough, on my Saturday morning visit, ran across a pack of Crusader 8 Norman Spearmen in Quilted Armour (DAN003) and a pack of 8 Unarmored Norman Spearmen (DAN004) and snatched the lot of them up for $12.
I will definitely tackle the Crusader miniatures before moving onto the Black Tree. i will probably draft the flea market find Quilted Armor guys as my primary dismounted warriors with the unarmored guys as back up and leave the chainmail for the rare occasions my milites have to dismount or use them as “counts-as” Flemish Mercenaries to assist with the rather gallopy-shooty Normans’ lack of ground staying power. The crossbowmen will fill another warrior slot for the time being.
As for as the peasant levy, i will obviously paint up the Crusader ones first so I can be all matchy-matchy. the slingers can’t be fielded by the Normans in SAGA, but will be great as throw-away troops in “Song” or “Battle Troll” or I could loop them into a future Anglo-Saxon or Anglo-Danish army as young-uns who haven’t grown beards.
I recently hosted a day of Dark Age battles for the HAWks club in order to play-test several popular rulesets for the period. The results were inconclusive as to which was “the best”, but it reawakened my long term interest in the genre enough to go out and build up my own army.
Since SAGA is the most particular of the bunch, I set out to create a force that could count for at least 4 points in that system, while still being diverse enough to provide a variety of troop types for use in the other two.
I attempted some kitbashing with a few backlog Wargames Factory Vikings and Numidians, but the CAD-produced sculpting left the detail less than desirable and while cheap, it really drove me batty trying to assemble them, so plastic was out and metal was in.
If you are going the plastic route, you have to check out SAGA Tapestry’s excellent guide for making the most out of the Gripping Beast and Conquest Miniatures plastic box sets.
With HMGS Cold Wars fast approaching, I threw myself into doing my research and tried to figure out what would be the best way to get the most bang for my buck, without having to resort to figures that either looked bad, or we so fiddly to assemble, that I’d quickly lose interest as I had in the past. That being said, here were my results:
As the publishers of the SAGA rules, this is the go to place for those who want the right-out-of-the-box forces. I have mixed feelings about the sculpts, since the older items that get mixed into the packs seem to be suffering from an all-body case of fluid retention bloat, but the newer items are really nice.
In the States, my convention favorite, Architects of War sells $53.00 for a metal starter army of 25 foot troops which comes out to around $2.12 a figure
While they lapsed into the Bugatti Veyron price range for a good part of the last decade, Foundry has recently lowered their prices back to something that us mere mortals can afford. Their old Dark Ages line has a nice selection, but they are old (Perry?) sculpts and can be a bit on the “wee” side. The newer Vikings are very nice, if not for the odd inaccurate horned helmet, and would be great for your showcase figures such as Warlords or champions (hearthguard for you SAGAmites). As an added bonus, they have a decent selection of civilians and lady vikings, not all of which are scantily clad if you’re looking for your Lagertha!
Currently listed on their site as $18.00 for 6 infantry, they still tip the scales at $3.00 a figure, but if only used for your “set piece” troops, that’s still relatively reasonable. The older range is $18.00 for 8 infantry which would be $2.25 a piece.
Age of Glory, one of my other favorite retailers stock the entire line of these and I really prefer the crisper poses over the “official” SAGA line. With a few exceptions, they have all the options you would need for most of the SAGA factions, even odd ones like the Irish dog handlers.
$14.00 for 8 foot troops so we’re now talking $1.75 a figure
Successor to the Harlequin miniatures line, Black Tree does have a small, but decent Dark Ages line and you might even be able to use certain packs from their ancient Picts to supplement your Gaelic armies of the Dark Ages. This line goes on sale quite often, and the extent of the discount can make these prices vary greatly.
Typically, if you are signed up for their free email club, a minimally discounted army like the Normans will sell for around $7.23 for 4 minis, bringing their individual infantry miniature price in at $1.81, just above Crusader, and just below Gripping Beast.
Saxons are slashed to 25% off right now ($6.23 for 4) making them quite a bargain at $1.55 per mini so you could kit out a 4 point SAGA force for under $40, and if you buy the Saxon Kings set and use the armoured guy as your Warlord, you also have the harp playing figure that can easily pass as the “Wandering Bard” special character.
This has always been the wargamers go to choice for cheap metal, with the caveat of some really dodgy sculpting at times and they also tend to be on the smaller size of the 28/25mm spectrum so you have to some visual inspection before throwing down the cash.
I’ve dealt with the main line of Normans/Vikings/Saxons and they are pretty bad.Too many “Hey Steve!” pointing command figures and rigor-contorted poses turned me off from finishing an army decades ago. On the other hand, their newer “Somerled the Viking Slayer” line shows some promise, especially if you are aiming to do a Scots or Irish force.
Usually, you’ll get 30 infantry for around $35 and you can order directly or pick them up at one of the many HMGS East cons. Each troop will cost you a mere $1.16. Add in the 40% Old Glory Army discount (which will cost you $50 annually) and that drops to paltry $0.70.
Tune in next time, and see if the research survives an encounter with the dealer hall!
Taking advantage of the weekend leading up to last Monday’s snow day, I put the finishing touches on the “I.M. Schlegel” scrap yard for my Cold Wars game.
The yard itself consists of a square of plasticard coated with a layer of brown, textured spray paint, and the fences are made from craft sticks dry brushed with several shades of brown/beige paint.
The pipes in the background are based on a shaped piece of plasticard that was coated with textured white craft paint before the entire thing was primed black. I found that the plain textured paint worked just as well, if not better than the far more expensive versions that Games Workshop sells.
A bit anachronistic for 1964, but the wrecked car is a plaster cast made a few years ago at an HMGS Hobby University session, all in all, I think it painted up pretty good. I still plan to make a few more wrecks out of the otherwise-useless vehicles that come with Plasticville buildings.
The name on the sign is an homage to the “I.M. Foreman – Scrap Merchant” sign seen in the first William Hartnell episode back in 1963, which would appear again during the tenures of the 6th, 7th and ultimately during the 50th anniversary special last year.
Now, most of the Doctor Who games I ran featured the David Tennant, Tom Baker, or Matt Smith Doctor’s, but I felt it was time to give old “Billy” a chance to shine again, so I painted up the Black Tree Design’s versions of the 1st Doctor, his granddaughter Susan and original companions Ian Chesterton and Barbara Wright.
I picked up the Musket & Tomahawks rules during the HAWKS Expeditionary Force’s trip to NASHCON 2013 last May so I’ve been trying to run a session every so often when we need an extra game on a HAWKS night.
Our most recent game saw a small British force, supported by German and Indian Allies face off against a large American force composed mostly of Continental regulars.
British Mission: Scouting
British side plot: Prevent the Americans from completing their side plot
American Mission: Engagement
American side plot: The american officer must personally kill 6 enemies
During the early phases of the game, the British commanders made great use of the hidden movement characteristics of their irregular troops and indians and quickly snuck through the woods on the left hand side of the board and into the American lines.
The British regulars on the other hand, got shellacked by enemy fire while marching up the dirt road leading to the bridge in the middle of the board. Luckily, they found cover behind a stone wall, but that proved little help against the withering fire of the American rifles and the Continental firing line.
As the game wore on, the British Lights and the indians made short work of one group of Minutemen on the American left flank, but couldn’t deal with the overwhelming numbers of the Continentals. Still, they managed to scout 75% of the objective. The German and British regular infantry fared far worse and were shot down to a man. The German Jaegers had some moderate success and were able to plunge deep into the center of the board, but poor dice results limited their effectiveness vs the bulk of the American forces.
The Americans went far from unscathed as their commander was brought down mid game by some expert musketry from the Indians, but the most ignominious demise went to the British commander, shot in the back while fleeing from the second unit of Minutemen. You could almost here him say “Oh, you cheeky devil!” as he sank face first into the mud and slime of the river bank.
In the final analysis, it was a narrow victory for the British who accomplished most of their primary objective and completed their side plot by dispatching the American officer relatively early in the game.
All in all, it was a great game. The group really seems to like the rule system, and I’m especially fond of the card based activation, the random events and scenario generator.It does take a few games to really get the hang of all the nuances. I blame most of the confusion on poor translation (the rules were originally published in French) and the lack of proper quick play charts in the back of the book.
As usual, the HAWKs hosted a room full of games at the annual HMGS Fall-In convention. In addition to assisting with Noah Guilbalt’s award-winning “Dungeon Crawl”, I ran three games of my own.
First up, on Friday night, I ran my first “true” Victorian Science Fiction game using the G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. rules. The story was a parallel plot to one of Chris Palmer’s previous Venusian scenarios and involved the crew of a downed cloudship fighting off the combined forces of the lizard and parrot men while awaiting relief from four separate (and competing to some degree) European forces.
Next, on Saturday morning, there was my “Corpse & Musket” installment: “Paul Revere: Werewolf Hunter” loosely based on the graphic novel by Ed LaVallee and Grant Bond. Once again the G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. rules were used, with some home-grown gothic horror elements.
This scenario had Paul Revere and a group of riflemen hunting down two werewolves and a pack of giant wolves while the colonial militia and British fought over possession of the bridge and cache of weapons. There was also a family in distress to be rescued/captured/eaten in the center of the board. Unlike the two other times I ran this game, everything came out rather balanced. The werewolves lasted until the end of the game, but didn’t run away with it (actually they lost) and the British fared better than they usually do and actually seized most of the supplies. The colonists, sat most of it out and easily occupied the bridge, keeping most of the British at bay with the riflemen under Revere’s command. Other than one militia unit taking a beating from the giant wolf pack, they came out with few casualties.
For some odd reason, and it must be an American thing, the werewolf player always runs straight for the British lines at the start of the game…
The grey wolf, who was dubbed “Snuggles with Danger” (its his American Indian name) by the kids in the game rolled a 20 during a melee late in the game and was quickly dispatched by the unusually lethal light troops. The black wolf was another matter: it took 4 rounds of mutual misses before he and the light troops officer mutually killed each other.
By game’s end, in a “cinematic overtime round” demanded by the players, Paul Revere squared off with the British commander, General Bloodsworth (blame LaVallee & Bond for that one, not me) though hard fought, Revere emerged victorious.
That night, Noah and I teamed up again to run our Doctor Who epic “The Crash of the Byzantium” re-utilizing many of the scenic elements from the dungeon game and the VSF game. The plot followed the 5th season (new series) Doctor Who episode pretty closely and saw The Doctor, Amy Pond, River Song and a cohort of militant Anglican clerics struggling to survive in the maze of the dead while being stalked by an army of The Weeping Angels.
The “blink” rules from The Doctor Who Miniatures Game were simplified to be area/squad-based rather than by individual figure. At the start of the game, one an angel got in sight line, a d6 was rolled. Any 1s meant someone in the group had blinked and the angels got the use their full move. To make things fair, we allowed the clerics to do a “snap-fire” during their own activation on any angel that had moved that turn using their non-invulnerable stats. To simulate the legions of angels, any casualties, were recycled back to their start point and allowed to re-enter the fray.
We even added “Angel Bob’s” (Cleric Bob died really early in the game) communicator taunting to the deck and when that card was called, the angel player could say something to make the doctor angry and during the distraction, get a new activation for any angel squad that had already moved that turn.
The Doctor and company started in the tunnels at the bottom of the board and then had to make their way through the “oxygen factory” forest area in the middle of the board, with the ultimate goal of reaching the primary flight deck of the crashed vessel.
Overall, we were very pleased by this one. We had a few veteran players in the mix and distributed most of them to the Angel side in order to ramp up the tension. In order to maximize the horror movie element, Noah worked in if they attacked enough of the tree-borgs, (see the episode) the “blink” numbers would eventually rise. By the end of the game, 1-3 meant someone had blinked in the increasingly dark catacombs. Everyone had such a great time, I think I’ll run this one again at Historicon.
My gasmask pickelhaube heads order arrived early this morning and I was able to make a little more progress on my VSF German steam-rifle troops. The West Wind metal heads were slightly smaller than I had expected, but I think they don’t look too freakishly out of proportion to the Warzone bodies once they were painted up. I was actually pleased with how “Prussian” the formerly sci-fi uniforms looked by merely changing the color scheme and snipping off a few anachronistic bits.
The one problem I encountered were the greeves and over-sized pauldrons. Originally I painted them light grey and added some German markings, but when finished, they looked a little too modern, so I painted them more of a boiler-plate color similar to the armor displayed on the new Dystopian Legions Prussian boxed set.
A few more pictures are below, including the start of the Gatling-gun trooper: