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!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Terror of Mkubwa Shetani - Pulp Alley

Tonight, ladies and gentleman, we are thrust into the terror and nerve shredding peril of the Dark Continent! Prepare yourselves for a journey into the very jaws of danger as we witness The Black Smoke embarking on his most menacing adventure yet - to recover the Idol of Mkubwa Shetani!

After the Stygian Idol was snatched from under their noses, the sinister Executive immediately embarked on a plane to Cairo from where they travelled deep into the Congo to search for it's counterpart piece, known as the Idol of Mkubwa Shetani. News of it's discovery had just reached Europe thanks to the work of one prominent archaeologist, Professor Barnabas Smythe. Thanks to their network of agents, Dirk Drake's ally in the fight against crime, the masked vigilante known as the Black Smoke, was informed of the Executives actions and was able to gather some operatives and attempt to head off the master criminal, Mister Stamper. After a frantic dash through the dense, humid African jungle, they arrived at the camp of the Professor just in time...!

The scenario rules were thus:-

  • The major plot point was the Idol of Mkubwa Shetani and was placed centrally on the table. Completing this plot point was to have...ramifications! :)
  • One minor plot point was Professor Barnabas Smythe, who has intimate knowledge of the Idol. The Executive needed 2 success on Might or Cunning to win him to their side. Black Smoke's Network needed 2 success on Cunning or Finesse.
  • One minor plot point was Smythe's daughter, Selina. She could provide necessary leverage if she was to fall into the clutches of the Executive. The Executive needed 1 success against Might, the Network 1 success against Finesse.
  • One minor plot point was the Professor's journal, which holds all his notes on the Idol.
  • The last minor plot point was the natives who worship the Idol. These had the following rules:
    • 10 natives were placed at the start according to normal plot point setup.
    • Each was a perilous area extending to 3" due to their spears.
    • After each player activation, the player with Initiative had to activate a native which would move 6" towards the nearest character in LOS or the centre of the table. This kept a fluid game going and made us really think about order of activation.
    • A native could be completed by getting 2 successes with Shooting while not in base contact. While in based contact, 1 success on Brawl or Might was needed.
    • Completing a native plot point didn't win initiative.
    • Any time a native was completed and removed, a new native moved 3" onto the board from a random board edge or corner.
    • The player with most native plot points held the +1 Experience Reward.
On to the action!
The setup! The Idol is in the middle, the natives are prowling and the Leagues arrive. All across the area the natives are chanting in a most sinister fashion - Mkubwa! Mkubwa! Mkubwa Shetani!
The Executive spot the camp and begin to move in.
The Black Smoke leads his agents towards the camp from the opposite direction.
His sidekick, Vinnie Harold, leads the sharpshooter Cliff Marsh in a pincer move.
Evading the natives, The Black Smoke leads his personal physician, Dr. Rupert Behr and his mechanic and fixer Milton Croft.
But Vinnie Harold is surprised by a warrior and engages in fisticuffs! Mkubwa! Mkubwa! Mkubwa Shetani!
Meanwhile the natives infiltrate the Professor's camp. Mkubwa! The baggage handler seizes the Professor's journal to protect it, while Miss Selina Smythe hides in the undergrowth.
As Mister Stamper and his ever-present henchman, Janssen, close in on the Professor, the noise draws some irate natives close. Mkubwa Shetani!
Dr. Behr climbs up the ruins and comes face to face with the Idol of Mkubwa Shetani! He grips it and pulls. Realising there is a mechanism holding it he sees that he needs to twist it free. As he does so, a click and a thud are heard deep in the ruins. Suddenly a loud 'BONG!' echoes from deep underground and the hairs on everyone's neck prickles as a deep roar resounds across the jungle!
It's dinner bell having been rung, Mkubwa Shetani arrives on the scene! From here on, all natives activating within 12" of the great ape are removed from play as they melt away into the jungle!
The trees and undergrowth shake furiously as the Mkubwa Shetani charges at the nearest snacks it can see!
Klaus Fellows, a follower of the Black Smoke runs to the baggage handler to try and seize the Professor's journal, but the native is too wiry and strong and Klaus is knocked to the ground and loses consciousness.
As the terror from the jungle surges forward, Stamper and Janssen are caught up in a struggle with some natives after capturing the Professor! In the fracas, they fail to realise the impending danger!
Chaney, an exective goon, moves up to the jeep and opens fire on Milton Croft, who is fleeing from the Mkubwa Shetani. He takes a snapshot back and both men hit the dirt wounded. The adrenaline is pumping though and both leap to their feet soon afterwards!
A native Witch Doctor urges his warriors on as the close down on the Executive goons Hogan and Morgan.

Milton Croft climbs to his feet as The Black Smoke sprints past, the giant ape hot on his heels. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour!

The scuffle with the natives goes on in the camp. In the far background, Vinnie Harold has battled his way through the natives to reach Miss Smythe. "Never fear, my dear! I will keep you safe!" "Oh, Vinnie!" Swoon!
Vinnie leads Miss Smythe away from the danger lurking near the camp!
Hogan and Morgan become ever more embroiled in trouble. They wouldn't manage to extricate themselves for the rest of the game!
Dr. Behr attempts to reason with the baggage handler, but he is suspicious of the newcomers and the doctor must dodge back.
Mkubwa Shetani lets out a ferocious roar and charges Mister Stamper who has finally thwarted the native threat! A little late, methinks! 
Janssen and Chaney try to run, but in their panic they lose their footing and only stumble a little distance (I had two Trip Up cards in my hand! Heehee!). However, The Black Smoke is nearby! In a hail of bullets, both men are knocked clean out as Stamper dodges and weaves desperately!
"Run for it!" Dr. Behr finally convinces the baggage handler to surrender the journal and he follows his leader in a desperate rush for safety while Mkubwa Shetani is busy trying to stamp out Mister Stamper!
Once again, Pulp Alley delivers! This was a brilliant game! George and I haven't laughed as much as we did here in ages! The natives and the ape really worked as I hoped. In the early part of the game, the natives were a nuisance and were actually quite dangerous for the lower level characters. But once the Mkubwa Shetani (Swahili for Giant Devil) appeared, they melted away and were only a threat around the fringes, while the Terror became the real danger. Accordingly, and because we were on a 4 foot table, there was less interaction between the 2 leagues, but there was so much to do and so much fun to be had that it didn't matter one jot! The story unfolded in a deliciously pulp manner and the next episode will see the Daredevils attempt to rescue the Professor from the clutches of the Executive's sinister employers!

Tune in for the next thrilling episode!

Monday, 26 August 2013

The Black Smoke Arises!

Been meaning to paint this figure up for ages as my tabletop alter ego, but never got round to it. But playing Pulp Alley has totally inspired me to get cracking on some of the pulp figures I've had lying around and I've been more productive than I have been for ages. In fact, I painted both of these figures in 2 nights! Completing a whole figure in a night is absolutely unheard of for me, so 2 in a row is amazing progress! And the nice thing is I get to use The Black Smoke in Pulp Alley tomorrow! :)

The Black Smoke

 General Ernst Von Krauch
Every hero needs a nemesis!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Mr. Vampire rules and AAR

As I mentioned in the last post, I playtested the scenario & rules for the Mr. Vampire game using Pulp Alley. The game can be played cooperatively or competitively by adjusting the victory conditions. In coop mode, the players win if they beat the Vampire, but lose if any one Hunter is knocked out. In competitive mode, the Hunter that has succeeded with most plot points wins (the plot points should not be removed whenever a player completes one). The rules are in a page that you can find on the right hand side of the blog. And to whet your appetite, here's how the game played out. Bear in mind that there were some tweaks made to the rules after playing this -

The setup. Uncle Kau is busy in the graveyard, Man Choi is near the house and Sheng is on his way back from his day job.

The Vampire pops up in the graveyard! Very thematic, but not a happy experience for Uncle Kau who is immediately beaten up!

Uncle Kau holds his breath while Man Choi runs nearby to lure the Vampire away.

But he misjudges his distances and the Vampire is drawn towards Uncle Kau who is frantically trying to make a ward in the house. Sheng is in the woods in the distance fetching wood for a firebrand.

Knock! Knock!
Who's there?
Mr. Vampire!
Oh sh....!

Uncle Kau leaps out and manages to stick his ward on the Vampire's forehead. Alas, it falls off in the next turn! Kau should use more spit next time!

The Ghost drifts in to complicate matters. Man Choi fails his peril, as does Sheng, which puts him at a disadvantage against the Vampire who proceeds to finish him off! Mr. Vampire rules supreme! 
Hope you enjoy and any comments or suggestions are welcome. Oh, and I actually made the Chinese house from the tutorial on Matakishi's Tea House. I'm normally not known for my terrain making skills, so thanks Matakishi!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Dirk Drake and the Case of the Stygian Idol

Ladies and gentleman, brace yourselves for the pulse-pounding heroism and derring-do of Dirk Drake and his Daredevils!

Tonight I played Pulp Alley for the first time* with George and Nick at the G3 club and it was a total blast! I can honestly say that this rule set is right up there with the best of the recent skirmish games I've played, such as 7TV and In Her Majesty's Name. There are some mechanisms in here that really appeal to me and totally bring out the story-telling and narrative aspect of a game. In fact, I'd say it's probably the strongest of the lot in that respect! So, onto the action, but be warned - animals were hurt in the making of this game!!

In this, the first episode of the "Adventures of Dirk Drake and his Daredevils", we find Dirk leading his brave chums to secure the precious Stygian Idol that has just arrived in the country and is ready to be shipped to the newspaper tycoon that has paid for it's retrieval. However, the Idol holds the secrets to a terrible power that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands, so Dirk has set out to steal it and deliver into safer hands. However, he is not alone in his quest to seek out the idol! Closing in on the treasure is the crooked Detective Lt. Chuck Chance (played by me) and his cronies, and Mr Stamper, the head of an evil crime syndicate simply known as the Executive (George's league).

The table. The Stygian Idol is being loaded into the trucks outside the warehouse. There are also some experimental cylinders, a scientist, an engineer and a footpad as plot points.
The crooked cops pile out of the patrol wagon, ready to move on the warehouse.
Warehouse workers are ready to move the crate into the truck. The workers were made into an extreme peril, to make things more interesting.
Janssen, Mr. Stamper's henchman attempts to accost the footpad for information on the whereabouts of the Idol. However, the thug pulls a knife and Janssen has to dodge back!
But Stamper simply moves up, swats the knife aside and subdues the informant.
Dirk Drake bounds up the steps to the rear entrance of the warehouse, but his girlfriend, Lavinia Love, breaks a heel on a broken paving slab and falls over (she failed a peril as a result of a fortune card played by me! Teehee!). Lavinia would later attempt to climb in a window to snatch the experimental canisters, but failed the peril challenge and fell back out and was knocked out! 
Billy Priest takes the first shot of the game as The Executive come into view.
Officer Muldew moves up and catches sight of Dirk's faithful bulldog companion, Chomper!
The squat little canine proves a hard target to draw a bead on and a hail of bullets all miss him! He scampers forward and leaps at the police officer, chomping down on his tommy gun! (Yes, he survived all the defensive fire!)
Dirk Drake spots the engineer who has some knowledge of the construction of the Idol. Despite the intervention of Officer Kripkey, he easily persuades the engineer to accompany him to work on the Idol.
Lt. Chance moves near the prize and guns down one of the crooks lurking in the buildings across the street who windmills into the street in dramatic Hollywood fashion before falling prone!
Professor Lawrence Love, Lavinia's father, runs up to the crate and dodges the attentions of the warehouse workers, before prizing the crate open and seizing the Idol. A burst of gunfire causes him to dodge back behind a truck clutching the treasure.
Officers Muldew and O'Mally attempt to cut off Prof. Love's route of escape after a titanic struggle with Chomper held them up for half the game! Finally, they managed to beat the dog off, which crept under a nearby truck to lick his wounds.
But in a moment of inspiration, the Professor leaps into a nearby truck and gets it running. Billy Priest also leaps in and they make good their escape with the Idol!
I...Love...This...Game! Pulp Alley has so many interesting facets, from the Fortune Deck to the Plot Points and the constantly switching initiative. Normally I would go into some detail about the mechanics, but I don't actually have to! You can download the quickstart rules here! I thoroughly recommend that you check them out and support the authors as they are just a small, independent father and daughter team, and I really think that our hobby is better off for these kind of innovative games developers. Any visitor to the Lead Adventure Forum or TMP will find that they are very active in supporting the community and showing off their excellent game. The main rules are only $10 for the PDF and are pretty much all you need as you can print off the fortune deck. For such a cheap entry price I can't recommend them enough! If you're looking for an extremely strong narrative game that is incredibly easy to pick up (we hardly referred to the rules) but has masses of tactical nuance, you can't go far wrong with Pulp Alley. If we weren't already down to play Fireball Forward next week then all three of us would readily play it again then, but we'll just have to wait till the week after.

So, roll up your sleeves and stub out your cigar, as Pulp Alley bursts onto a tabletop near you!

* I umpired a playtest of my Mr. Vampire game using Pulp Alley the other night with my brother which helped me learn the rules. It went really well and I'll blog the rules and report soon.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

More IHMN figures and a ghost!

It's been a wee while since the last update and I actually had someone complain about that (you know who you are!), but I haven't been completely idle. I've finished the Dragon Lady figure from the Black Dragon Tong set, although I haven't come up with a name or backstory to fit into the Brotherhood of the LOST yet, so she's currently under the working title of The Mother. I also finished a Chinese ghost figure for the Mr. Vampire game that I am working out. That's the cast complete and I have most of the rules and stats done, so it's just down to terrain making now. I also attended the Claymore show in Edinburgh yesterday and picked up all the figures for the other half of the LOST crime syndicate. If you look back a few posts you should be able to get some idea of what that might be! :) I also got another carry case and sort of impulse bought a rules set and a starter box that I will be looking at soon! But that's enough for now. Here's the pictures!

The Mother - I went with the theme of red here to fit in with Lo Chan Fu himself and was a little inspired by the wedding dresses in Big Trouble In Little China. If you look closely, I even did green eyes! I think that's the first time I've ever painted coloured eyes and not just black dots. I think she's suitable as alternative boss figure, or perhaps his actual wife or something. She's pretty formidable looking, don't you think?

The Yeti - Thought I'd post an official portrait of this one, as we only saw him in some blurry shots in the last battle report!

The Ghost - The capricious spirit that will (hopefully) be entwined with the fates of the hapless Vampire Hunters! 

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