About Me

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I'm a bit of a born-again wargamer! I played many of the Games Workshop games when I was in my teens and early twenties, but left the hobby behind when I went to University. Over the last few years I have gradually got back into it and am literally having a ball! I'll play pretty much anything now, ranging from ancient historical to the far future! I think that I get more out of the painting side of things than actually playing, but that might just be because I get more opportunity. Hence the title...this blog is all about the colour of war!!

Tuesday 31 December 2013

Farewell 2013 and thanks for all the Pulp!

So, it's that time already to do the annual review of the year and a look ahead at the New Year! And what a great year of gaming I've had, mostly being dominated by the awesomeness that is Pulp Alley. But before I begin properly, here's the list of games from my 2012 Hogmanay post that I intended to play:
  • Dystopian Legions - This never took off and I actually sold all my stuff! Oops! :)
  • Malifaux - I managed to play this a couple of times, but it lost steam at the club while the second edition was upcoming. Now it's appeared there's a resurgence. Despite only playing a couple of games, this still remains one of the better systems I have.
  • Infinity - Managed to paint some figures and play some games. I shall play again!
  • Force on Force - Again, played a few games and still really enjoy it.
  • Maurice - I managed to paint a few bases, but that is it. Not sure if I'll ever get to play this!
  • Super Heroes - I picked up some Pulp City figures, but I never got anywhere with this project. 
  • Zombies - Another non-starter. Mainly due to the number of figures needed and the terrain.
So, as we can see, I managed to fulfill less than 50% of my planned games! However, there was definitely a theme that developed over 2013 - Pulp! It started about May, when I started painting the Brotherhood of the LOST after a rather inspiring game of 7TV, but really blossomed in August with the explosion of Pulp Alley onto the scene. From that point on it's been almost all Pulp Alley, which says volumes about how much I like that game. Nothing has dominated my tabletop like it since my early days of playing Warhammer and I was mulling over exactly why?

I think the answer to the question is the fact that Pulp Alley is an open system. The first aspect of that is that you can very easily adapt or craft rules around it to support what you want to have in your game. Take the lasso and parachute rules that have appeared on this blog. There's nothing for them in the books, so with a bit of thought it was very easy to come up with something that works. The second aspect is the character creation. Unlike Malifaux or Infinity, where the stats are given to you and anyone can field the same character, Pulp Alley pretty much makes you create your own league. There are some sample ones in the book, but not many. The real magic in Pulp Alley is taking any figures you have or desire and crafting a concept around them. The end result is a completely unique force that you can be sure that noone else has. Pretty powerful stuff! The fact that they progress over games is another great thing that the others can't provide. So, all in all, Pulp Alley is a winner and will see lots more table time in 2014. 

So without further ado, let's look at the plan for 2014. I'm going to do 2 lists, though. The first is the big players; the games I think I want to concentrate on, paint more figures and play more that just a couple of times. The second is the other games that I intend to try and fit in around the more popular ones.

The Best

  • Pulp Alley - 'Nuff said! This will be played! :)
  • Malifaux - With 2E out, I think I will be able to slot this in a bit more.
  • Warhammer 40K - I have picked up some stuff for this on eBay. Just need to decide on a paint scheme!
  • Zombies - Yes, the perennial project rears it's festering, rotten head! I think that ATZ will bear the same fruits as Pulp Alley, so I intend to knuckle down and do this!

The rest

  • In Her Majesty's Name - This was played once I think, but we both really enjoyed it and I have another company nearly complete. I definitely think it will be played again, but in what volume remains to be seen.
  • Chain of Command - Not played it yet, but the rules look excellent. This is really a contender for The Best list, but I don't know if I'll manage it. Hope so!
  • Force on Force - No doubt we'll advance the Murdistan campaign a  bit this year.
  • Eden - Played once and really enjoyed it. Will definitely play it again.
  • Infinity - I have the stuff, so it will be pretty easy to break it out for more games.
  • Flames of War/Fireball Forward - Got plenty of this and I actually played in a FoW Infantry Aces campaign this year, so I hope to get it played a bit.
No doubt there's other things that will appear or reappear over the year, but that's how I see things panning out just now. But if 2013 is anything to go by, then who knows what 2014 holds! :)

And as a final farewell to 2013, here's some pictures from a second play of the dino wrangling game that I hosted for my annual festive period game with mt friend James:

Friday 27 December 2013

Welcome to the Secret War!

It was a few days before Christmas when it felt that Santa had visited early. I opened my front door to find the postie had deposited a largish box on my doorstep. I had completely forgotten about the emails sent by Modiphius about the Achtung Cthulhu books and when I saw the label on the box I almost squealed with delight! Especially as this is the first time I've recieved goods from a Kickstarter. With Christmas just around the corner I didn't have time to post about it, but now the dust is settling I thought I'd give you all a peek at what is a fantastic product!

The front cover of the Investigator's Guide. The artwork is just sumptuous!
The Keeper's Guide. I think this cover conveys the 'pulp' nature of these books, rather than the more traditional investigation theme in Call of Cthulhu.
The books are just lovely. The covers are a nice matte finish and are very pleasing to hold. The artwork is just stunning and the books just scream quality. Oh, and they have that 'just off the press' new book smell! :) Inside the book, the pages are of a nice weight of paper and are nice and glossy (but not too much!). There is a also a ribbon style book mark. All in all, I can't fault these books. And I'm quite fussy about books!

So, aside from the quality of the books themselves, what can you expect to find in them. First off, there are a couple of versions of them for different RPG systems. I received the Call of Cthulhu/Savage Worlds versions and you will find rules for both systems side by side throughout. The relevant sections are nicely denoted by 'Cth' for CoC and 'Sav' for Savage Worlds, as illustrated below. Further to that, the character creation chapters are duplicated in their entirety (not word for word, obviously) for each section, which makes a lot of sense.
Some more atmospheric artwork graces a page that amply demonstrates the dual nature of the books.
The Investigator's Guide contains a wealth of information that players need to know to create a character and understand the setting. It starts off with some descriptions of what life was like during the Second World War and some timelines of important events. It then moves onto the most important bit - character creation. Here the book really gets to work and gives a wealth of new occupations and skills that are required for this era. Importantly it gives some civilian occupations, as well as the expected intelligence and military ones, so the players don't need to think they must be a soldier or spy. There are also some character generation tables if the players aren't into creating their own, or for Keepers to pre-generate characters. Finally, there are a few tables of stats for weapons and equipment pertinent to the war. Of course, I'm still not sure what effect a bazooka will have on a shoggoth!
More lovely artwork. Just makes you want to grab your mates by the collar and make them play this!
 The Keeper's Guide is basically what you'd see in the CoC rulebook without the actual rules! There are chapters on secret organisations, spells and tomes, monsters and otherworldly entities, combat and use of period technology, like planes and armoured cars. There are also chapters with sample stats for various types of people the characters might encounter, from Air Raid Wardens to Gestapo officers. Basically, there is too much stuff in there to go into detail, but it's safe to say that there is a good few evenings worth of reading there and tons of stuff to get you into running a game. I've actually already run one scenario in this setting using the Three Kings campaign from Modiphius and I could really have used this book, as I had to wing some things.
Well...CoC is notorious for being lethal to characters! :)
Here you can see the sort of extra skills you'll find in the book. Let's hope you never need Artillery!
All in all, I'm very happy with these books and I simply cannot wait for the campaign books that will be coming in 2014, taking us from North Africa to the Pacific, via the Antarctic! I'll definitely be using these in 2014 and if you're into Call of Cthulhu I would definitely recommend checking them out when they hit the shelves.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Where Drakes Dare

Last night we played the final club game of the year as the G3 club is closed on the 24th and 31st. To give a wintry feel we decided to play the next installment of the Dirk Drake adventures!

The scene opens on a castle high in the Austrian Alps. Having extracted the location of Professor Barnabas Smythe from General Von Krauch, Dirk Drake has assembled a crack team of operatives to storm the castle and retrieve the Professor. Also, the team has firm intelligence that the Nazis who have the Professor captive have been busy processing a new element that Smythe has found - Perilium. In a daring assault, Drake embarks his crew on an aeroplane while Lady Frinton leads her band in by land. Also, discovering the entrance to the dungeons under the castle, The Rocketeer sends his allies into the gloomy depths while he personally assists the above ground assault, where his rocket pack will be more useful! But the Schloss is not lightly defended! The Eisen Fauste is there in force and are backed up by the Executive. The scene is set, so let's cut to the action...!

Parachute Rules
  • The drop point travels 6" each turn across the table from the middle of one table edge to the other. So on the second turn the drop point will be 1 foot from the edge and the third 18".
  • Each turn, when a character on the plane activates they have the option to jump. To do so they must pass a Cunning check with 1 success.
  • They are then placed on the table at the drop point. They may now move 6" in any direction for each die of Finesse they have. They are then finally scattered D6 inches.
  • To land safely, the character must get 1 success on Finesse, but with a penalty of -1D for each 6" move they made, or suffer 3 hits!
  • For example, Dirk Drake passes his Cunning check and jumps with 3D8 Finesse. He opts to move 6" inches from the jump point and scatters a further 3". He must then pass a Finesse check with 2D8 or take 3 hits!

The walls of the Schloss are high, but not impenetrable to the daring heroes! But who is that patrolling the walls? The Executive are clearly back in the Nazi fold!
And under the castle, the gloomy dungeon is a suitable environment for the sinister Eisernen-Maske. 
The castle as it appears from Lady Amelia Frinton's vantage point just before the assault.
The Rocketeer zooms towards the walls, while Billy Priest descends from above to execute a textbook landing.
The Eisen Fauste patrols the dungeon. Hidden alarms have alerted them to an enemy incursion.
The Rocketeer's companions move into the dungeon. The narrow passage definitely looks perilous! 
The Frintons move into the treeline and start laying down fire on the Executive.
One of the Executive goons responds and decides to move to the gatehouse. Those steps haven't been salted, though, and he slips down them and bumps his head! He's out cold for the rest of the fight!
From the shadows of the main keep comes a clanking and whirring! The Nazis new secret weapon is revealed! A Perilium powered Uberjaeger Ausf A and it's creator, Professor Klaus Sonderbar! The allies now know they must bring this monstrosity down and destroy it's Perilium core!
Mr Simpson forges through the passage, but he doesn't spot the traps laid by the castle's builders. Suddenly blades come whirring out of nowhere and he is down!
Meanwhile, one of the Eisen Fauste's troopers attempts the stairs, but the Gestapo Health and Safety Committee has not been doing it's job and these stairs prove a bit slipper too! Another one out for the count!
Billy Priest runs into the lee of the castle walls and starts strapping his crampons on! No mucking about with gates for him! It's straight up and over!
Hearing the grunt of Mr Simpson going down, the Prof follows in warily, but things have gone from bad to worse! The tunnel is now a deathtrap of swinging blades and buzzing saws!
Stamper spots his nemesis, Dirk Drake, in the open and opens fire. Drake is too nimble, though, and the snow is merely kicked up around his feet.
And Morgan puts down fire on the Frintons in the trees. Morgan would be the target of a ridiculous amount of fire in this game, but somehow the walls kept him safe!
The Rocketeer decides to show Billy Priest how things are really done and ignites his rocket pack. With a whooosh, he flies up and careers into Chaney, an Executive ally. With his momentum there is an almighty thwack as The Rocketeers fist connects and Chaney crumples to the ground! Billy Priest looks up in envy; "I gotta get one of them!"
The Daredevils are now dropping from the skies in numbers. Both Professor Love and his daughter, Lavinia, land near Drake, but an exchange of fire with the ruthless Stamper knocks Lavinia to the ground. Fortunately her locket with a photo of Dirk takes the brunt and she is only winded.
The Uberjaeger clanks forward and shoots at the Rocketeer. The hail of bullets catches him and, sensing an opportunity, Chaney leaps to his feet and rushes him! Puffing and panting at the exertion, Billy Priest manages to finally climb a wall without falling off!
Meanwhile in the dungeon, some of the Rocketeer's allies finally dodge through the traps, but they are met by fierce resistance, led by non other than the Eisernen-Maske and Hans Schleicher. The ensuing melee was a bit of a bloodbath!
Another Daredevil descends from the plane, but a gust of wind catches his 'chute and he ploughs into the stone walls and falls to the ground, stunned.
Dodging the attentions of the Executive, the Rocketeer swoops down on an Eisen Fauste NCO and knocks him down. He grabs his opportunity and sets an explosive charge on the remaining Perilium reserves.
And on the walls, Billy Priest engages in a brutal struggle with Chaney. Wounded by the full auto fire of the Uberjaeger, this fight isn't as one sided as Priest is used to!
With the defenders thinned out on the walls the Daredevils and Frintons race towards the gate! Lavinia Love watches as a crate bumps to the ground on a parachute and runs over. She unlatches the lid and out bounds Chomper, Drake's faithful bulldog companion!
The violent struggle in the dungeons ends and Mr Johnson surrenders to the Nazis! What will the Rocketeer do now that his financial backer is in the hands of the enemy?!?
As dusk falls across the Alps, the Daredevils and Frintons burst into the courtyard, but the Uberjaeger is a relentless killing machine! Along with the firepower from the Executive, the Uberjaeger knocks down the Rocketeer and wounds both Drake and Lady Frinton's butler, Johnson! So close to victory, the Daredevils retreat, fearing a Nazi counterattack in the dark. But they will be back to finish what they started!
Another fantastic game of Pulp Alley! This was our biggest yet at 5 players, but the various routes into the castle kept things interesting and, although we ran out of time, everyone had a great time. And now we have a couple of real grudge matches starting, so we can fork the story line a bit. Stamper and Drake are long time nemeses, but the Rocketeer now has a real issue with Nazis, who are, in turn, really interested in the rocket pack!

Great fun and I hope you enjoyed it! Tune in for the next thrilling installment...!

Monday 2 December 2013

A little bit of painting too

In addition to the magic game of Pulp Alley on Saturday, the club held it's first annual painting competition, too. I thought that I'd give this a whirl so splashed some paint on a Hasslefree zombie hunter. Alas, it didn't win the competition, but it did receive an honourable commendation, which was nice! So, here's Ashlee Campbell...she's pretty groovy...! :)

I have also pretty much completed a couple of Eden figures from the Bamaka Clan. These were a bit of an impulse buy when I set eyes on them on the web. Thankfully there is a player or two at the club (one of whom is very enthusiastic about the game) so I will get to play it once I'm done. The figures themselves are pretty big, but they are veeeeery nice!

First up is Folayan Soft Belly:

And then Ngobo Quick Arm:

Apologies about the slightly naff photos! I will get back to using a decent camera at some point, but at the moment, my phone is just too convenient.

Sunday 1 December 2013

The Valley of Gwan-gee-three

Yesterday I played in a rather excellent game at the G3's annual Spencer Warner Memorial Games Day. Spence was a very long serving member of the G3 club and was well known to the majority of the club. I spoke to him a few times, but he sadly passed away a year and a half ago, not that long after I joined. In his memory, the club instigated the annual Games Day which I think is a great thing to do. All the proceeds are given over to Macmillan Cancer Support, a very worthy cause, and this year we raised £330!

So, given the fact that this was not a regular club night I thought that George and I should run something a little out of the ordinary and the first thing that leapt to mind was a Wild West dino hunt using Pulp Alley! I've always loved the film Valley of Gwangi and, of course, George said he had everything we would need...! Naturally! :) All I had to do was come up with some extra rules for wrangling those prehistoric dawgies and we were on!

Dino Wrangling and Lasso Rules
  • The range that a lasso attempt can be made is equal to the dice quality in inches of the characters' finesse. So a D8 gives you an 8" range.
  • A lasso attempt is an opposed roll of your Finesse against the target's Dodge.
  • For each lasso already on the target they lose 1 die of Dodge.
  • When a lassoed target activates, an it must make an opposed Might roll against the Might of one of the cowboys with a lasso on it (decided amongst the players). The cowboy gets +1D for every other lasso on the target.
  • When the target loses the roll  it is subdued and becomes a plot point. Completing the plot point is basically hog-tying it!
  • And yes, we had cowboys trying to lasso other cowboys! :)

So, without further ado, the curtain raises to a strange valley, somewhere in New Mexico! Roaming this valley are some very unexpected creatures! Rather than cattle and buffalo...there are DINOSAURS!!! Upon discovery of these ancient reptiles a number of groups immediately set out to capture them. First off is the land owner, Ben Cartwheel and his ranch hands (played by me). Second is a bunch of hired guns, lead by Rooster Hogburn, in the employ of circus owner Philleus Barnum, who wishes to display these wonders. Third is a roving bunch of outlaws, led by The Colonel, who can smell an easy buck to be made...or at the very least they'll be able to eat for weeks!!

The Valley of Gwan-gee-three! The riders arrive to find some dinosaurs milling about. We decided that the reptiles would move randomly, minding their own business, until shot at or lassoed, whereupon they would turn on the nearest character!
Despite being separated by millions of years, the power of Pulp Alley brings the ferocious T-Rex and the powerful Triceratops together!
Some 'raptors are also prowling about. Some of the outlaws spot one and begin moving in for the lasso attempt...
...while the others can't resist the lure of the huge herbivore in the valley.
But Ben Cartwheel leads his ranchers in with guns blazing! "Get offa my land, ya varmints!"
Rooster's hired guns begin rounding up the nearest dinosaur - another Velociraptor.
And Rooster himself is first to it. His expertise with the lasso is there for all to see as he effortlessly loops it over the dino's neck.
And his allies join in to make sure that raptor is going nowhere!
The outlaw's scatter under the fire of the ranchers and Reynolds gets the first lasso on the contested raptor, which is easily subdued in it's confused state.
The other raptor is subdued and Rooster gallops up to truss it's limbs. He does so, narrowly avoiding it's snapping jaws.
Ben's follower, Kid Jebsen, is not so adept, and ends up in the raptor's jaws! That's right, folks! Tying up a live Velociraptor is most certainly a perilous thing to do!
Little Bo and Blue, Cartwheel's sidekick and ally charge up to try and drive the hired guns off. Rooster and his sidekick Dean Mitchum engage in a firefight which sees Blue's mount shot from under him (he's the standing figure at the bottom of the hill). But the delay for the hired guns would prove very...costly!
Ben orders Reynolds to get the raptor secured while he covers him. With an audible gulp he sets about his task, trying not to stand in the bits of Kid Jebsen that are left. But the dinosaur is obviously full and he manages to get it tied up!
All this time, the outlaws have been struggling with the massive brute strength of the Triceratops. Despite three lassos, they simply cannot subdue it and must keep dodging it's attacks, or be severely gored! 
After the raptor was secured, Cartwheel himself gallops over and is the first to lasso the T-Rex. Already enraged by one of the outlaws who fired upon it (specifically to get it's attention to draw it over to the hired guns), the monster bellow out a tremendous roar! Little Bo also gets a lasso on it and Dean Mitchum tries to gallop away, but those mesas are treacherous going and his horse stumbles and he has to control it...
...giving the ferocious carnivore the chance to stampede up the hill and gobble the unfortunate cowboy up! It's taste for blood ignited, it immediately charges Rooster who also ends up following his compadre down it's gullet!
The terror stomps down towards Cartwheel's crew, but Reynolds joins them and the third lasso is enough to bring the prehistoric predator down! Alas, it falls to the side and crushes English Jim, one of the outlaws! (Actually he failed his recovery roll, so we decided that made more sense! You can see him down just past the dino!)
While the carnage is ensuing on the mesa, the outlaws finally get another lasso on the Triceratops and it finally tires out and collapses! Their leader, The Colonel, doesn't waste any time and gets it's legs well and truly tied up! It'll be dino meat and beans for weeks at their camp now!
This was another brilliant game and really shows the versatility of Pulp Alley and I hope that the game was something that Spence would have enjoyed as much as we did.

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