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 20 November 2013

Perilous Island Episode 1 - Karnak Fire

Last night saw a new player join our Pulp Alley gang. Both George and I have played Paul on many occasions, but this was his first outing in PA. So, rather than bring yet another league into the Dirk Drake Adventures, I thought it would be nice to start a brand new campaign and that would let both George and I come up with new leagues too, which is half the fun of Pulp Alley! In order to reduce the burden of scenario design, I suggested we play though the Perilous Island campaign and both George and Paul readily agreed. So, with a wee tweak to location, mainly due to available terrain, we start our campaign in search of Perilous Island in Egypt!

The Background
Lord Donovan Darrow is a world renowned archaeologist, but his star is well past it's zenith. To the astonishment of many of his peers he has squandered most of his wealth in pursuit of a fabled Enochean civilization in the South Pacific. With each letter received from his travels becoming wilder and more fanciful, many are starting to believe he has lost his mind. Chief among his fantasies is the belief in the legendary Elder Stone, an ancient artifact said to be powered by unearthly gods and able to enslave or destroy one's enemies. But now the letters have stopped and friends and family fear for Lord Darrow's safety...!

Dramatis Personae

  • The mysterious Rocketeer. Few know this masked man's identity or how his marvelous rocket pack work, but all know he is a man of action balanced with virtue. What most don't know, however, is that the rocket pack isn't quite perfected yet!
    • Prof (ally). The Rocketeer's brilliant, but slightly absent minded technical support.
    • Poppy (ally). Nominally Prof's assistant, but, in reality, is the one who keeps the boys on track and stops them getting distracted into trying to invent the rocket hula hoop!
    • Mr. Johnson (ally). The groups financial backer who insists on looking after his investment. His constant obsession with increasing his wealth does lead to tensions in the group, though.
    • Big Al (ally), Mr. Johnson's bodyguard. 
    • "Mr Simpson" (ally - or so he claims in a suspiciously Russian sounding accent), a sharp-shooter hired by Mr. Johnson.
  • Dr. Lo Chan Fu. Very much the manipulator, Lo Chan Fu is far older than he appears thanks to a mysterious tonic. Able to project his powerful psyche across distances, he eschews weapons of any kind and prefers to keep the enemy at arm's length
    • Xiufang (sidekick). Lo Chan's only daughter. A stunningly beauty, she knows how to play to her strengths and wrap men around her little finger. Don't be fooled though! She is a crack shot with her 38!
    • Mei Ling - The Dragon Lady (ally). No-one knows where she comes from, but she has been by Lo Chan Fu's side as long as any can remember. Her unearthly presence causes most to shy away from her presence.
    • Wing Chan - The Dragon Warrior (ally). Suspected to be Mei Ling's brother, Wing Chan is an accomplished martial artist and does not carry guns. Instead he relies on his deadly halberd.
    • Chao Lee (ally). A brutish thug from the darkest underbelly of Hong Kong, he is a devoted follower of Lo Chan Fu.
    • Wong the Tong (follower). A foot-soldier from Lo Chan Fu's Brotherhood of the LOST, a leftover cult from the Boxer Rebellion.
  • Captain Conrad Cortese. A grizzled veteran of many stormy seas, Cortese has visited every port in the known world and made his fortune on the way. Money is his only motive these days, but who can say whether a noble soul resides deep within his salt-encrusted features!
    • Murdo Mackenzie (sidekick). Murdo is Cortese's Chief Engineer and his long time friend. Murdo would follow his Captain to the ends of the earth...and beyond!
    • Ed Hands (ally). The first mate of the crew. Always carrying his machete with him, he is always the one Cortese wants around in a bar brawl.
    • Andrews (ally). The second mate. Handy with a rifle, Andrews is always there to back up the Captain with a cool head and a steady aim.
    • Robeson (ally). The stoker. A burly African, Robeson also doubles as Cortese's guide whenever in Africa and can be counted on with his rifle in any fight.
    •  Castro (follower). The deck hand. A South American pirate, he owes Captain Cortese his life and will not leave his side till the debt is paid.

Episode 1- Karnak Fire
Lady Elaine Darrow, Lord Darrow's daughter is herself an accomplished and respected archaeologist. Currently on a dig in Karnak, Egypt, she is being sought out by the adventurer known only as 'The Rocketeer', who has been contacted by Lord Darrow's solicitor to find her. The hope is that she may be able to lead him to her father and bring him back to safety. However, as The Rocketeer and his colleagues approaches the site in Karnak, they are not alone! Also seeking clues to the location of Lord Darrow is the sinister and nefarious Dr. Lo Chan Fu. Determined to recover the secrets of the Elder Stone he is tirelessly working to follow Lord Darrow's trail so he may use the artifact in his quest for world domination! And to further complicate matters, a treasure seeking band of sailors is closing in on Lady Darrow. Having heard of a fortune in gold being offered as a reward for the return of Lord Darrow, Captain Conrad Cortese is bringing his mercenary sailors to the dig, hoping to bag a little bit more treasure than just the information that Lady Elaine may yield!

The various leagues move in on the dig site at Karnak. Oblivious to the closing chaos, Lady Elaine (major plot point) is busy in main temple building. In the foreground is her camp site, where her journals and personal effects are stored (her tent and baggage are both minor plot points). Sitting outside the temple is a recently excavated artifact, bearing an uncanny resemblance to a certain Ark (minor plot point). Finally, returning from the bazaar in town is her faithful maid,  Mr's O'Bunyon (minor plot point).
Lurking in the shadows, Lo Chan Fu observes the maid and the seamen approaching the temple and a low, menacing chuckle emanates from him. (Lo Chan Fu started in hiding, as befits his character!)
In a bold move, Mr Simpson rushes forwards and fires on the group of sailors in the distance, but to no effect.
Xiufang and the Dragon Lady begin to move among the camp, in search of Lady Darrow or perhaps a journal or letters from her father. On the other side of camp, Poppy curiously approaches the tents, looking for clues.
Mr Simpson comes under a hail of bullets from the sailors and crumples to the ground. Behind him, Mr Johnson dives behind a statue while his bodyguard, Big Al, draws their fire.

Approaching Mrs O'Bunyon, Andrews suddenly spots Wong the Tong and opens fire. Cursing at being caught in the crossfire, the maid distracts Andrews and his shots go wide, but Wong's aim is true and Andrews hits the dirt.
Sensing his timing is right, Lo Chan Fu sneaks from his hiding and assails Castro with his pyschic ability (using Cursed Presence to play a peril on him), but the pirate is too dim witted to realise what is happening and emerges unscathed.
The Dragon Lady approaches Lady Elaine's tent and spies Poppy poking around the camp.
She calls Chao Lee who runs over and raises his huge blade! Poppy faints before the blow is struck, though, and is out for the count. With no-one to disturb them, Xiufang begins picking the lock of an interesting trunk while Mei Ling starts rummaging in the tent, avoiding the snakes that have infested it.
In the background, The Rocketeer (masked by the palm fronds) lights his rocket pack to lift himself onto the temple, but he misjudges it and overshoots. Crashing into a pillar he falls to the ground and injures his shoulder. (I love making up stories for those failed challenges!)
"Look, Cap'n! There be goooold!" The treasure hunters smell their quarry! Surely that gold box must be holding plenty of pocket-sized trinkets!
While, inside the temple, Lady Elaine draws her pistol and watches in bewilderment as a half naked Chines man with a halberd whirls and slashes at a man in a mask with a rocket pack in his pack. A roundhouse catches The Rocketeer, but his mask takes the brunt. He shakes his head, ducks the next kick and lands a punch square on the martial artist's nose, knocking him out! Prof calms the archaeologist down and starts to lead her out of the temple, explaining what all the commotion is about. But he trips on a broken slab and twists his ankle! Stepping up, The Rocketeer sweeps Lady Darrow into his arms. "There's no time, Miss Darrow! We must be away!"
Always first to the treasure, Captain Cortese tries to prise the lid open, but it is very...very...heavy!
As Andrews tries to reason with Mrs O'Bunyon (which means dodging her rolling pin) he doesn't see the shadowy Lo Chan Fu approach. Appearing over her shoulder, a mental blast assails the second mate and he falls to the ground twitching. Lo Chan Fu spins the surprised maid and his piercing gaze is enough to hypnotize her. 
Having avoided the first snake, The Dragon Lady doesn't spot the second and screams as it's fangs strike her arm!
Murdo Mackenzie runs over to his captain to help with the treasure. Did I mention the lid is VERY heavy! :)
Finally Ed Hands joins them! Between them all they manage a single success! I guess their hands were too sweaty at the prospect of all the loot!
Eventually the 'Ark' yields and it's secrets are revealed! His pockets stuffed with gold, Captain Cortese and his colleagues surge into the temple just in time to blast away at The Rocketeer as he lights his pack.

The Chief and the first mate also try their best, but The Rocketeer proves too slippery a target and his engines ignite and Lady Darrow is carried off to safety!
What a great game! Paul thoroughly enjoyed his first outing in the wacky world of Pulp Alley and I think he may be hooked! Each league really played to their theme, with Paul's intrepid hero intent on rescuing the damsel in distress, George's sailors bent on filling their pockets and my cult lurking about in the shadows and trying to cause mischief! Really can't wait till the next game as we progress in this campaign. A great start and I would highly recommend the Perilious Campaign supplement to anyone that has Pulp Alley but doesn't have it. Not only do you get 10 scenarios, it also comes with a bunch of 'weird' abilities, which I used for both Lo Chan Fu and the Dragon Lady. I think it really gave my league the flavour I was looking for and I now have consistent stats for him and his followers for In Her Majesty's Name, 7TV and Pulp Alley! Talk about getting your money's worth! :)

Monday 18 November 2013

Don't worry! Be Harpy!

Last week I had a first go at 7th Voyage with George. We've played 7TV a few times, but to be honest, it's kind of drowned in the roiling wake of Pulp Alley, so it was nice to go back to the system, but with a slight change in flavour. The main difference is obviously in the focus on melee versus shooting and I think that it actually lends itself to the 7TV mechanism a bit better. So in this game we recreated the iconic sequence from Jason and the Argonauts where Phineus is rescued from his torment at the hands of the Harpies!

The Harpies descend on poor, quivering Phineus before the temple steps.
To the rescue! Jason leads his Argonauts in a battle line. He leads the bulk of the veterans, while his captain (in the red cloak) leads a group of light foot with slings and nets. A couple of them also guard Jason's left flank (nearest the camera).
The opponents ready to close on each other!
An ugly beast screeches and flaps menacingly above Phineus.
In an all-out charge, the captain leads his light foot into the Harpies, catching one before it could flap into the air.
Meanwhile, Jason leads the way and his veterans run to shield Phineus. His own light foot advance with their slings whirling at their side.
With their bronze shields safely between the arrows and axes of the winged horrors, the veterans take the fight to the enemy.
While the Harpies to the rear, armed with bows, soar into the air, a general melee begins between the remaining Harpies and the veteran Argonauts. Would their numbers be enough to overcome the Harpies unnatural toughness!
Jason stands victorious after cutting down the Harpy queen!
The first Argonaut falls to a Harpy axe...
...but his comrades surge up the steps to avenge him!
With the vile creature vanquished, the warriors pull Phineus up the steps and into cover.
The hail of stones from the slings brings a flying beast down in a flurry of feathers and the remaining Harpies flap away, desperate to get away from the furious Greeks!

This was a really fun game. George and I really got into the theme of this and we even got George to squawk like a bird! Just like it's predecessor, 7TV, I think that 7th Voyage is a good solid skirmish game. The mechanics are pretty basic, but the flavour is achieved by the events and skills of the main characters. There is also the added twist of Luck and Audience Appreciation, which creates some lightweight resource management. However, I am a firm believer that you get out of a game what you put in, so George and I will probably have fun no matter what we play. The only problem for me is that Pulp Alley has totally coloured my view of skirmish games where every single model has a character and you can roleplay. 7th Voyage suffers slightly in that the extras are just that...extra! They don't lend much flavour other than the theme of the cast, and the main characters don't make up for that enough. Having said that, 7th Voyage does deliver nicely on it's theme and I will play it again without question, and will definitely paint up a cast for it. I have a Perseus and a Medusa that will do nicely! :)

Friday 8 November 2013

Escape From El Khazam

On Tuesday night we had a real slugfest of a game of Pulp Alley. This was our first 4 player game, with Dave bringing along his newly pigmented league, led by the indomitable heroine Lady Amelia Frinton.

This episode begins with Dirk Drake receiving a message from his agents that Lady Amelia Frinton has landed in Cairo looking for clues to the disappearance of a dear friend of her Uncle Monty's, namely Professor Barnabas Smythe. Drake manages to get a message from his hideout in El Khazam, past the prowling Nazi and Executive thugs to Lady Amelia that he is holding a Nazi officer prisoner who has information regarding the Professor's whereabouts. In a daring move, he agrees to deliver General von Krauch to her under the noses of his adversaries, but very little happens in Egypt that the Eisernen-Maske and Mr Stamper are unaware of!

In this game I decided not to have any Plot Point tricks or effects and instead concentrate on coming up with an interesting deployment and scenario. The deployment zones were laid out such that Frinton and Drake started from opposite sides of the board. In the middle were the Eisernen-Maske leading his Eisen Fauste strike force, and the Executive, trying to ingratiate themselves with the Nazis again. There were four minor plot points strung out across the middle and Drake's league started in possession of General von Krauch, the major plot point. The villains would score VPs for any plot points not in the hands of their opponents. The heroes would only score VPs for plot points they possess. And so, onto the action. Roll cameras!

El Khazam! Dawn! The Nazis and Executive are pouring from their hideouts looking for Drake. He can be seen entering on the far right table edge.
Looking for a vantage point to exercise his crack shot abilities, Billy Priest tries to climb up to the roof of a nearby mosque. But he really should have worn his other boots as he comes crashing down in a pile of dust, mortar and peril! :)

The Eisernan-Maske lurks while Hans Schleicher orders his troopers to fan out.

Lady Frinton and her stalwart companions leap from their truck, eager to locate Drake.

The Executive know that the key to the lucrative Nazi payroll is finding von Krauch first!

An Executive thug (I forget their names...there were so many characters!) spies Lavinia Love and her father and charges in. She dodges to safety, though, and the Professor has to dodge a hail of bullets that head his way!

The Germans form a firing line with the Executive.

With a woof and a snarl, Chomper charges straight into the action, but Drake's faithful bulldog fails to bring his quarry down.

Meanwhile, LAdy Frinton's Siamese cat, Mr Bigglesworth, sneaks up to the concealed Nazi radio transmitter. He sniffs the box and identifies that the radio is there (he got one success) but is unable to open the cabinet with his paws! (Dave never managed to roll another success! I love how the story telling just comes out of this game!)

Lady Amelia shouts to Johnson her butler as she spies Executive sidekick Janssen advancing. Johnson runs over and demonstrates his pugilistic heritage and cleans the villains clock with ease!

Cheyney runs over to assist his friend and delivers a hefty kick to poor Chomper who whimpers and scampers away from the fight.

However, Dirk Drake bursts from the mosque and Lavinia joins him. Together they are too much for the Executive goons and even the elite German soldiers pull back to better cover.

With supreme self-confidence, Der Eisernen-Maske walks out amidst the gunfire and engages Lady Frinton's family friend, Reggie. Overcome by his ominous visage, Reggie is ineffective and Lady Amelia runs over to assist him.

But Der Eisernen-Maske's advance is relentless and even the courageous heroine falls back!

Distracted by the twanging of bullets on the truck, Johnson and Uncle Monty don't spot Hans Schleicher charging and, with one ferocious blow, Uncle Monty crashes to the ground and stays down.

Attempting to get the General to the truck, Drake's men suffer fearsomely accurate fire from the German troops and the General slips from his bonds.

In a dazzling display of athletics and derring-do, Dirk Drake avoids all the fire from the Germans and closes in on the last of the troopers.

But it is too late! Professor Love recovers his wits and grabs the General (although he didn't have time to complete the Plot Point I consider the General to still be a captive). The sun has risen high in the sky and the rumble of trucks signals the arrival of Nazi reinforcements, so Lady Frinton gathers her companions and make off in their truck. Drake returns to his hideout and starts plotting his next move to get the General out of Africa and to uncover the secret Nazi plot!
This was a really good game. Dave and Nick, playing the Frintons and Drake respectively, didn't really communicate enough before starting (though I admit they didn't know the scenario until late on) so they ended up with no-one on hand near the end to hand the General over. Instead, we had quite a bit of gun play and fisticuffs, which played nicely into the villain's plans. In the end, no plot points were secured by the heroes, so the Executive and Eisen Fauste took all the VPs.
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