Sunday, 16 November 2014

Empire of the Dead - Game 2

Yesterday we played game 2 of our narrative campaign for Empire of the Dead by Westwind Productions. The campaign is being run by Big Steve (who, I am obliged to point out, is actually normal sized, but was bigger than Little Steve, so became Big Steve). The factions are:

Me: Department 13 ("Shoot first and question the corpse later")
AGG: Whitechapel Vigilance Committee ("No officer, it's not a sword, I'm a whaler and it's just a really big flensing knife")
TGO: Whitechapel Police: Hell Division ("10: Say 'BARK', 20: Goto 10")

Following the last game, H:Division had interrogated the Chinese prisoner, and he  had been tried for the murder of the women and baby in the park. He had been sentenced to hang and Inspector Reid was given responsibility for the security of the event. Given the "unusual" events of the Chinamans capture, Reid took the unusual step of asking for assistance from the stout fellows of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. He also, reluctantly, sent word to the Home office and requested Quatermain attend (plus I threatened to withhold the roast chicken lunch I was preparing if he didn't send for me...)

The execution was due to take place in an enclosed yard behind the Whitechapel police station. The yard was adjacent to a small square enclosed on three sides, with a busy road on the fourth. The yard was separated from the square by high walls (which I built in about 6 hours the night before - the flock was applied that morning!) and contained the Gallows and a storage warehouse. The cobbled street in the yard is actually a textured yoga mat.

H: Division had Inspector Reid, a Police Sergeant, six bobbies including two with rifles, the desk Sergeant and FIDO the iron hound and handler.

The WVC had "Mad" Maggie Malone, Bob the Butcher, Fagin and six stout fellows all armed with swords and two with pistols.

Department 13 had Quatermaine, Frank and six Hanoverian Guardsmen. The guardsman had rifles and swords. Frank had his whacking club and a pistol and Quatermain had his elephant gun and a pair of heavy pistols.

The square and the yard with Whitechapel road at the bottom of the picture. Police station is to the right.
The yard with gallows at bottom left, storage warehouse top left and F.I.D.O the iron hound and handler just inside the (working) gates.
The square. Police station to top. Prisoner just being escorted out of station. Quatermaine and Hanoverian guards standing sentry duty against the wall of the yard and various ne'er do wells of the WVC milling around.
The prisoner is escorted into the yard. WVC follow the police.
Inside the yard the police head towards the gallows, protected by more Hanoverian guard and a couple of stout coppers.
The WVC emerge from the shadows to follow the police. Their new leader, Mad Maggie Malone (or crazy cat lady as we came to know her) emerges, wild eyed, foul mouthed, crazy haired and with  a frightening temper. AGG loves her!
The brave Hanoverian soldiers protect the gate.
One of the Hanoverian soldiers, Quartermaine's loyal manservant "Frank" and Quatermaine himself stand guard.
The execution party guard the scaffold. The Hanoverian Lieutenant and two of his soldiers, plus the police sergeant and a stout bobby.
Snipers (well, bobbies with guns) on the rooftop of the police station.
There is an ominous boom from overhead and the overcast sky is suddenly split for a fraction of a second by an midnight black fissure that dissipates as soon as it has been seen. Moments later a dark, inky cloud begins to boil out of the sky, covering the whole area in its shadow!

Suddenly, four covered wagons peel off from the Whitechapel road and begin moving toward the yard. Quatermaine, the Hanoverian Guard and the police snipers watchfully wait to see if they are just legitimate traders coming to sell their pies and sausages of dubious provenance to the gawking onlookers, or if they have nefarious intentions.

The carriages charge!
With a thunderous clattering of hoofs on cobblestones, the carriages accelerate towards the gate. The defenders outside the wall open up with rifles and Quartermaines elephant gun. The first round of fire is mostly ineffective, but a second turn of firing brings three of the carriages to a halt with dead or wounded horses. One topples over in front of the gate, partially blocking it. From the others emerge more of the insidious orientals!

The fourth coach charges towards the gate and with a crash, a horrible splatter and an impressive display of carriage driving, it thunders over the wounded horses that were blocking the gateway, killing them in the process.

The Oriental thugs emerge from the halted carriages
 Meanwhile, on the roof of the police station, the two snipers hear the flapping of wings and are set upon by winged beasts (definitely not Nightgaunts) with vicious claws that descend from the darkened skies!

The snipers have company...
Inside the yard there are seven flashes and puffs of smoke and black clad orientals (definitely not Ninjas) appear on the gallows and around the storage building! They hurl throwing stars at those closest to them, hitting one of the Hanoverian guard who, startled, retreats behind some convenient cover (the nearby police). The WVC take pot-shots at carriage as it roars across the yard...

The second WVC shooter manages to wound the horse, and a shot from one of the Hanoverian guard kills it. The horse collapses, but the yoke digs into the courtyard, causing the carriage to cartwheel end over end! Inspector Reid and his bobby are standing right in it's path - the bobby dodges out of the way, but Reid is struck by the carriage and flung away, smacking into the rear wall of the yard with a sickening thud.

Reid is squashed by the gyrating horse and carriage
Outside in the square, the orientals close with the defenders. Quatermaine drops his elephant gun and draws his pistols, blazing away and taking down one of the attackers. The Hanoverian guards open fire, then brace to receive charge. Some of the orientals charge, but some hold back and fire, ineffectually, with pistols. Frank despatches his assailant with his traditional tribal war cry: "UMBONGO!"

Inside the yard the Hanoverian guard and the police fire on the black-clad orientals on the scaffold and knock one down and force the other to retreat. The WVC in the centre of the yard split up, Maggie and a couple of the men with her head over to the carriage. The two chaps with the highly illegal pistols open fire on the black-clad... ok, lets just call them Ninjas on the roof of the storage shed and Bob the Butcher charges into melee with the two Ninjas in front of the shed. Between him and the nearby bobby they put one down for good and knock the other over.

Action in the yard...
In the square outside the meleƩ continues. Frank charges the oriental with the pistol and after a swift tussle forces him back, discombobulated. A passing WVC deliveryman, seeing the action steers his wagon off the road to join in, nervously leaving the valuable horse and carriage unattended to join the fray (AGG had put one of her figures on a carriage in the road and forgotten about him - we reasoned he was a member passing as part of his day job, hence his late arrival...). Inside the station the desk sergeant calmly walks to the armory and unlocks a shotgun...

Passing member of the WVC on the right.
On the roof of the station, the police snipers are putting up a valiant defence against the flying beasts, but one of the brave bobbies is impaled on the creatures iron hard claws. It braces to leap into the air, but a masterful shot from Quatermaine causes it to release him and stagger back (he is the Empire's greatest hero, after all). Just as the coppers are gathering their wits, two more of the creatures land and begin to batter their way into the station, tearing a hole through the roof and ripping open the nearby hatch!

That's the maintenance budget blown...
Inside the yard the WVC rush up the stairs of the gallows to attack the Ninjas. The Hanoverian Guard take a shot at the one Ninja they can see, killing him, and then turn and head back towards the gate. As they run through the yard there is another puff of smoke from which emerges an elderly oriental gentleman.

A dramatic entrance (and a lovely purple robe, according to AGG)
At the same time another puff of smoke clears to reveal a hideous sight - a womans head sways atop a flayed open ribcage, long, silky black hair swirls behind an obscene, serpent-like body made of roped and coiled organs and entrails! It's a Penanggalan! The demon spits a ball of acid at the WVC members, but misses and instead hits the steps up to the scaffold. The police Sergeant and Fagin, the WVC fence, lose their nerve at the sight of the demon and flee. The elderly oriental gentleman concentrates on the Hanoverian lieutenant and he is immediately dissolved into a bubbling puddle! The two guardsmen are made of stern stuff, however, and charge the sorcerer! One of them strikes a telling blow with his sword, only to have the blade snap off, as though he had struck at a statue instead of an elderly man!  

Extreme dieting can lead to demonic possession.
Outside in the yard the guardsmen, Frank, Quatermaine and the late-coming WVC deliveryman continued to fight with the orientals, but were gaining the upper hand. The desk Sergeant nonchalantly opened the door to the police station and let rip with the shotgun, killing one of the Orientals and discombobulating the other. The terrified chinaman ran to hide behind the nearby dead horse.

In the yard Butcher Bob and the Iron Hound had despatched the ninjas on the ground by the warehouse. Three chinamen had emerged from the overturned carriage and been set upon by Maggie and the members of the WVC. The two WVC shootists continued to take pot-shots at the ninjas on the roof, whilst one of the Ninjas disappears in a puff of smoke, only to reappear behind the captive chinaman that was to be hanged! One of his guards struck the ninja forcefully upon the noggin and he retreated back into his smoke cloud.

Meanwhile, the stairs to the gallows collapsed due to the demons acid and dumped the WVC bruiser to the floor. The demon spits acid at him again, but his leather jerkin protects him. He raises his sword... err, flensing knife... and attacks the creature, hacking wildly at it. He strikes a mighty blow and the demon is pushed back. Maggie spies the creature out of the corner of her eye and charges over, fighting claws raised as she howls at the beast! She hurdles the remains of the stairs and leaps on the creature, hacking, slashing and biting at it. Her frenzied attacks find their mark and it disappears in a puff of acrid smoke.

"Oi! Naff off, you demon minger!" 
 On the roof of the station the two snipers are just about holding their own. One of the creatures has entered the station and is making its way down towards the desk sergeant. One of the snipers beats off his opponent and vaults the wall onto the porch roof. From here he snipes at one of the ninjas on the roof of the warehouse. The other bobby is knocked down and the creature sinks its claws into him again. Quatermain, only able to see one of the beasts, takes aim and blows the head off the other one.

Inside the station the Sergeant sees the approaching winged beast and flees out the front door, after discharging his shotgun into the ceiling. A Hanoverian guard, come to investigate the noise, sees the Sergeant run past him in terror, peers through the door and sees the winged beast bearing down on him. With Teutonic calmness he raises his rifle and shoots the creature in the head, killing it with one shot.

In the yard, the Fido the steam dog jumps on the ninja hiding in his smoke cloud and brings him down. Maggie's boys despatch the last of the chinamen from the carriage, and the WVC bruiser on the gallows brings his Ninja down. The elderly oriental gentleman steps back into his smoke cloud and disappears again.

Out in the square Frank, the tardy WVC deliveryman and the other Hanoverians mop up the last of the orientals, as the two remaining winged beasts on the roof take flight, one grasping a policeman in it's claws. Quatermain takes aim with the elephant gun at extreme range and fires. The beast is hit and windmills towards the ground, dropping the bobby who falls to earth somewhere near Liverpool Street (Quatermaine: "Poor chap. Probably for the best, though. Dammed thing would only have laid eggs in him or something.")

As the sound of battle dies down the skies clear and the plaintive wail of the WVC deliveryman can be heard "Oh no! Some buggers only gone and nicked me wagon! Mr. Grimshaw will 'ave me knackers for this!"

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Combat Wombat Bullfrog Class Lander/VTOL

I've been hankering for one of the little VTOL Landers that Scott at Combat Wombat sells. I needed to place an order for some of Scotty's turned brass barrels for another project, so I took the opportunity to nab a couple.

The Bullfrog is a 15mm lander made in grey resin. It comes in kit form and requires a moderate amount of assembly. The parts had some flash on them, as a result of the drop casting technique, but a rub over on some 80 grit sandpaper soon cleared that up and smoothed off the slightly rounded back face of the parts. I assembled using Zap-a-Gap thick super glue and a Filla-Glue kicker pencil.

The model went together very easily and the parts fit together really well. I chopped the detail off the upper surface of the pod and fixed it straight to the spine, but you could easily leave it loose and magnetise it for additional variety if required.

Bullfrog Lander. Croak.

I washed the model in some warm, soapy water and then, in honour of the name, gave it an all-over coat of GW Gnarlock Green foundation paint straight over the resin. A lander called Bullfrog has to be green. I have found the now OOP GW foundation paints to be really good at covering, and I'm happy to use them straight onto bare resin most of the time.

Finished version and kit form sans pod.

Once the green was dry I dry-brushed Dheneb Stone straight over the top then added a few metallic areas using the newer GW Leadbelcher. I then stippled on some Khermi Brown to represent paint chips. In retrospect, this was too light and I should have used Charadon Granite or Adeptus Battlegrey. The cockpit windows were then shaded from dark to bright using Necron Abyss, Mordian Blue and a very, very old pot of Lightning Bolt Blue. The blues were blended together whilst still wet to give a fairly gradual change.

The model can be assembled with or without the lift engines on the leg struts.

A few areas of black were added around the engines and landing gear and then, as usual, I did the next bit in the wrong order. Instead of a gloss coat (or a coat of Pledge floor wax) and applying the decals from my Gundam 1/100 sets, the whole model got a a thin wash of the ever useful Devlan Mud with Nuln Oil in the metallic areas. I'll have to add the decals then dirty them up again before finally sealing the model.

GZG OUDF to the left and Armies Armies Neo-Sov on the right.

The finished model is very nice indeed. There are few bubbles here and there, but nothing really unsightly. They are also a bargain at $7 each, which works out to about £4.50 so even with postage - still a bargain! One of my landers was missing it's pod, but Scott replied promptly to my email and is sending out a replacement and a spare to act as scatter terrain, which is a very generous gesture.

Exit ramp.

I've prepared a Gruntz card for the lander. This version is unarmed, as I see it more as a utility lander than a combat asset, but I figured door guns would be possible.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Bovington Tank Museum Part 1 - pre 1946

A quick photo tour of the outstanding Bovington Tank Museum. I took these pictures more than 2 years ago, so there might have been a few changes since then. The new WW1 halls weren't built then, so no pictures from there. This post is very picture heavy and covers pre-1946 tanks. I'll do another post on the more modern stuff.

If you ever get a chance to visit Bovington, I highly recommend it. If your tastes run to more simian pursuits, you can also swing by Monkey World which is nearby.

Some of the pictures are a bit blurry as the shiny surfaces of the tanks were foxing the autofocus on my normally rock solid camera-phone.

The view as you enter the main hall.....
King Tiger. A huge and imposing tank, even compared to modern giants like the Challenger and Abrahams.
Jagdpanther with a fine example of early ambush camo.
A9 cruiser tank with three turrets.
King Tiger with Henschel turret
Prototype Sherman tank - notice the three machine-guns mounted in the hull.
Concrete mobile pillbox.
Covenanteer. Only ever used in training as it's engine overheated rapidly.
Preying Mantis tank. Designed to fire over obstacles.
Jagdtiger SPG
Panzer IV

Churchill AVRE with spigot mortar 
Teeny tiny Italian L3/33 flame Tankett. The top of the tank was lower than my belt buckle.
Centurion Mk1 driver Training Vehicle. The gun barrel is made of wood on this one.
The Black Prince - proposed upgrade to the Churchill with bigger engines, thicker armour and larger gun.
TOG 2 - a design by WW1 tank designers (The Old Gang - hence TOG) for a WW2 tank. It is the heaviest British tank ever built.
Australian Ram Tank
SEFOP-AP shot through a steel test plate.
Tiger 131, the only one still running in the world as far as I know. It was captured in Tunisia after being disabled by a very lucky 6lb anti-tank gun shot jammed the turret. The shot didn't penetrate, but the heat of the impact spot-welded the turret ring to the hull, preventing it from turning.
Close up of the marks where the disabling  6lb solid shot skimmed the bottom of the barrel before hitting the gun mantlet and jamming the turret traverse ring, disabling the tank.
M4 Sherman
Vickers A1E1 Multi Turret Tank