Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bolt Action and The Chicago Way

Ah, German camouflage patterns how I hate thee. I'm about half way through completing my German Bolt Action army, realizing quickly that painting camouflage isn't a whole lot of fun. And I still have Denison smocks to complete on my British Airborne, grrrrrrr. But I'm making a ton of progress and honestly couldn't be happier, despite the slow going.

I'd been powering through my entire force of metal Germans over the last several weeks, cleaning up belt straps, ammo pouches, canteens, etc. to finally start on camouflage last week. It's absolute madness the different types of camouflage and then trying to replicate that. These first 25 figures I completed I'd say the pattern is a combination of Oakleaf Splinter Palm Pea Dot with a twist of lemon pattern. Translation: I had no idea what I was doing, and was basically making stuff up as I went! What I really should have done is just plain old simple German Herr; something like from the old Combat! television series. No smocks, no camouflage, just grey with black boots!

Some of the figures I felt looked pretty good, others not so much. The whole kicker is once I put the Army Painter Quick Shade on you can barely see any pattern at all until you hold the figure up to your nose!

Big picture though, I'm actually very pleased with how the figures turned out. I do feel I need to go back and re-do some skin tones (especially on the team based units) and then use the Army Painter Soft Tone Ink wash, as I think some of the figures skin tones are much too dark. Though again, historically if you look at any of the figures I've painted in the past, I have an awful habit of making everything a little too dark and earthy in tone, even before the Quickshade hits the figures. Something I really hope to improve on in the future.

I've got both my Pak 40 and 105mm guns built, I'm just really on the fence on how I want to base both them and the crews. I really like the idea of being able to pull individual figures off for casualties, but also really like the look of the diorama base. We'll see I guess.

I've already got seven figures completed and ready for varnishing, and about 15 halfway done with a Pea Dot camouflage pattern. These figures I actually followed (well, tried at least!) a "how to" in an old Flames of War supplement book I had. So far I'm actually pretty pleased on how they look.

I  finished today by pre-ordering "The Chicago Way" from Great Escape Games. These are the guys who brought us "Dead Man's Hand", one of my favorite games - because of the ease of gameplay and I absolutely love games that have the ability for you to throw interrupts against your opponent. Well, looking at the preview pages for "The Chicago Way" it's going to play almost exactly like DMH. And that's not a bad thing at all!

I ordered the core set of rules, which comes with the deck of cards. I also ordered a set of marker tokens, the vehicle template, and three of the four gangs. The Prohibition Agents, The Gangsters, and then the Chicago Police. They have four resin vehicles available to order as well, but I've got some 1/48 scale Matchbox Cars of Yesteryear that will do the job nicely for now.

I really can not wait to get my hands on this game! And it looks like 4Ground will be releasing 8 new buildings to go along with this line. Looking at the background building in the Gangster photo, I am immediately thinking how I'm going to make a custom 'Art Huck's Garage' sign for that building! Art Huck's Garage was where there was a climatic shootout in my favorite movie of all time, "The Big Sleep", starring Humphrey Bogart. Then of course I start thinking about city buildings and making window signs that say "Philip Marlow" or even "Spade and Archer" from another of my top five favorite movies "The Maltese Falcon"! I'm super excited for this game and what I can do with both figures and terrain for it!

Next big hurdle for me is to make a decision on running a game at Historicon. I've got until April 15th to submit a game for the PEL. I think seeing 'The Chicago Way' being released here shortly may really help in making that decision, as I feel I could actually pull off both a 'DMH' game and a 'Chicago Way' game. Though, as my son just pointed out a little while ago, that'll be a ton of work in a short period of time to be ready, and I'm about the slowest damned hobbyist in the world. Not to mention getting everything down to Fredericksburg... stay tuned.

As always, thanks for looking!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

FINALLY, Pulp Alley!

So... almost a year and half later... finally, Pulp Alley! Last Sunday saw my son Jakob and an old friend Steve over for a night of tabletop games.

Being our first ever go at Pulp Alley, I felt overall it went really well. We're still not 100% clear on a few things - Dodge moves, we made a meal of the Health checks the first three turns (but quickly figured out exactly what we misinterpreted thanks to Jakob), Challenges, and I still have some questions regarding Perils, but again, I thought it was a blast and can't wait to play it again. I played GM, while Jakob played what I'd created as the "good guy" league and Steve played the "bad guy" league.

While preparing for the game I found it quite difficult to come up with perilous areas for the board. These are pre-determined areas that will require players to pass challenges to move through them. Being a town board, I just couldn't come up with plausible narratives for perilous areas save for the basic jumping up/off buildings. Since it was my job to run the game, and get the rules wrong, I thought it would be fun to have all the perilous areas only known to me (kind of old school RPG like), because honestly, if you knew where a perilous area was you wouldn't go near it - and that's one question I have for Dave (who wrote the rules and is extremely active on his boards with answers to questions and suggestions) where I feel I need clarification.

I had three perilous areas only I knew the locations of - a mummy (which was an extreme peril), a kidnapping  (which I didn't end up using), and my favorite, the swarm of beetles. I was originally going to have these come out in a couple of different places on the board, but the game took on a life of its own and I only needed to use it when an attempt for the major plot point was tried.

I found it extremely interesting and really fun how the game really kind of wrote its own story. I had a basic outline, but it was really neat to see the narrative come to life within that. The perfect example of that is in the photos below with a fight on the balcony of one of the buildings between the "bad guys" sidekick and muscle of the league, Amon Sighn, and the two "brains" of the "good guy" league, Natalia Aldridge and Professor Knight.

This sequence saw Sighn jump from the streets, courtesy of that cart, up onto the balcony to try to steal back the coin plot point that Professor Knight had obtained. Aldridge arrived quickly to help get the Professor out of danger.

This part saw some Hollywood type action, with Professor Knight finally escaping with the plot point by jumping off the balcony, onto some boxes, and then out into the town center. Natalia Aldrigde just barely got away, fleeing down the stairs, only because Sighn failed his challenge to pursue (we called it a peril because he tried to jump over the side and tackle her on the stairs). The narrative wrote itself here by calling the failed roll a trip!

The muscle of Steve's league, Amon Sighn, started his deployment outside of the Lao Che Air Freight building.

I absolutely love 'Casablanca', easily in my top five movies of all time, so I had to make a Café Americain building and of course a Rick Blaine figure. We ended up with two plot points at Rick's Café, by accident really. Rick himself was a plot point and already there, and the piano ended up there too because my son doesn't know the movie :) and placed it there during the set up; which of course was ok because it was quite fitting!

It was here that the extreme peril of the Mummy came into play when Jakob used his leader, Hutton Kincaid IV, to attempt to get the piano plot point. He ended up failing the challenge badly and actually got knocked out - or so we originally thought, this was one of our goofs with Health checks. He ended up coming back in the following turn, so no problem.

Steve's first attempt at a minor plot point was with Zedlock, an Ally, who tried to grab a canopic jar that was placed near the train station platform. On his first attempt when the challenge came up he actually failed, and collectively we all realized that your plot points were going to obtained much easier with the higher ranking characters! He grabbed it on his second attempt though.

The game went back and forth, with Jakob grabbing two plot points and Steve with one. And as we neared turn six both sides made a dash for the major plot point, the Mummy's coffin, in the center of the town.

Jakob ended up placing two of his characters behind the truck to gain some cover and a better position to shoot at Steve's characters running across the town center. Similarly though, Steve set up his leader, Barnubus Perry, across the way to provide cover for Zedlock as he made his way to the coffin.

Being in open ground, Zedlock proved to be an easy target for Jakob and was knocked out right before he reached the coffin; and unfortunately lost the canopic jar he was carrying.

Jakob then made an attempt for the coffin, and that's when the swarm of beetles attacked! This was 'The Mummy' moment I'd been waiting for the whole game and I placed 10 beetle swarm models all around the coffin area. Needless to say, Jakob failed the challenge to grab the plot point. His sidekick, Natalia Aldridge, came in to pass both the peril and challenge to grab the coffin. Jakob finished with 2 minor and the major plot points, and unfortunately Steve finished with none.

Overall, I thought it was great game, and I think (I hope anyway!) everyone had fun, despite my messing up some rules. Very much looking forward to giving this a go again - I can really see where a campaign setting will be perfect for this game, especially when you can get a story to unfold over several games, or chapters as I will call them, like those brilliant Republic Serials from the '40's. If you've never seen 'Zorro's Fighting Legion', I highly recommend looking it up! Absolutely amazing, and way ahead of it's time (except for the sound effect for the Golden Arrow, yikes!). You can really see where George Lucas stole a whole lot of ideas for a certain archeologist!

In addition to finally playing Pulp Alley, I couldn't be happier with the grunt work I've been completing to get here. I've got 70+ figures almost painted completely, I made an obscene amount of palm tree plates (so much, that I actually think the table looks too crowded with them) and scenery, completed a bunch of plot points & perils (my beetle swarms), and jazzed up two buildings with some fun and throwback signs. Pretty good for the self proclaimed 'Slowest Hobbyist on Earth'.

As always, thanks for looking!