Welcome to my blog, the story of my continuing journey into the World of Zombie Wargames.

Monday, 21 July 2014

World War Z - Quick Review

I've had a pretty busy time over the last 5 days, a visiting blogger's arrival and the inevitable gaming session following, with two fellow bloggers! I will of course be posting about all our adventures in a future blog when I catch my breath.
Having held back watching WWZ as long as I could though, I have finally managed to pluck up the courage to watch it.
If you like Brad Pitt, fast zombies and haven't read the book then this film will probably make it into your top-ten of of zombie films. I like neither of the above and I have read the book, so it doesn't make it into my top ten.
The production values of film are what you'd expect from a "blockbuster" Hollywood epic, with no expense spared and even though it runs at about two hours for the extended version I watched it does move along at a rapid pace, and there is little to no characterisation probably because of the pace. I actually didn't care whether or not Mr Pitt's character survived or not, he was so memorable that I can't even remember his character's name.
Unlike a lot of reviewers I didn't mind the obvious CGI used extensively for the "big" zombie scenes", I guess it's so common-place now in films that I expect them., and they're not that bad in this film imo.
I do however like a plausible plot line, a storyline that isn't full of holes and makes more sense than in this.
Ignoring the fact that the film has nothing to do with the book save the use of the title, it had many features I didn't like. The fast zombies didn't have the look of zombies I now expect (the Walking Dead does have "the look") and their incessant sprinting, which does give them their lethal aspect,  just doesn't appeal to me. Similarly when victims turn into zombies, it's almost instantaneous, another feature which is a great film mechanism for keeping the action going but does little to build any sense of suspense or impending doom.

It is of course a film that you have to watch at some time if you're into action films and/or zombies but have the popcorn handy. I'd rate it as no more than a 3 on my scale .

Next week, when things here have returned to what passes as normality, I'll tell of our shopping sprees and games, so watch this space.

 That's all for this week except to welcome  my latest follower "Uniteallaction" and to say that as always your comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 14 July 2014

World Cup Wrecks

These are some other scenic items that I made whilst watching the World Cup, though to be fair, they were made at the same time as my sheds. They were finished and painted recently though whilst I was bored, due to the lack of football.
They're all made very much the same as the last car wreck I made (here)
The first vehicle is actually the same model that I used in my previous attempt at a wreck (they're 3 for £1 in Poundland).
As previously I've removed the flashing light and hidden the resultant hole where the lights were.
Once more I've taken a scalpel to various doors, car-lights and so forth to get a more wrecked appearance. the main difference with this and the last model was the interior. I used the interior that was with the car for the most part, but I did cut away the rear engine and replaced it with a piece of card.
All four tyres were filed down on their bases to represent flat tyres, but this hardly shows on the finished model.
After all the cutting and gluing (this soft polyethylene is a pain to glue) there were probably a few more gaps in the structure than I 'd have actually wanted, but as it's a wreck it's not that important.

The second vehicle shown comes from another pack of either four or six vehicles. This one had the same treatment as the one above, doors cut out etc. Unlike the first, where the sticker/transfer/decal things came straight off, the ones on this were very stubborn, so they were taken down as much as possible then used for texture to add rust to.
The wheel base of these was slightly wider than looked right so I also took a pair of pincers and cut them to a more acceptable length.

The rear "door" was lost in the making (turning up when I'd finished what I'd been doing to this of course) and left a gaping hole after I'd once more cut the engine out of the back.
I have since thought though that I could get a figure in the back - just.
The left hand driver's door cracked in the process of cutting it away, this was left as it was.
I had contemplated putting some fake smashed glass in some of the windows of all these models, but the effort outweighed the benefit, after all, these are wargame models primarily, for my own use and meant as nothing more.
The last model shown here has had the same treatment as the other two, except the inside piece has had the two front seats ripped out.
I had thought that I'd add a small piece of detail to the inside by putting a model mattress or maybe a sleeping bag across the front seat, but once more I decided the effort just wasn't worth it.
Like the sporty looking car above this vehicle has a sun-roof already cut out; I covered the one in the sports car, but left this one as is.

For variation I made this one a little different from the other two in that I decided it would be leaning on its side having had two wheels come adrift and I was quite pleased with the result.

All the models were disassembled, sprayed black then given their base coat of paint.
Further painting consisted of rust patches in various browns to each vehicle and the minimal possible amount of detailing to their interiors.
As these were meant to represent street wrecks, very thin card was used for the smallest bases I thought I could get away with. The bases were coated in PVA and had a sprinkling of sand over them to give them texture and then painted to match my roads.

At a cost of less than a £1 for all three and minimal effort on my part I'm pleased with the result.

As always your comments are both welcomed and appreciated !

Monday, 7 July 2014

THW Rules OK ?

I'm a great lover of wargame rules ever since I discovered "Little Wars" and progressed to dice based games with Donald Featherstone's "War Games", back in the days of black and white television.
I started zombie gaming with Two Hour Wargames'  "All things Zombie - Better Dead than Zed by Ed Teixera"  rules after reading many recommendations. I had however already encountered the "Chain Reaction system" whilst looking for rules for a gangster skirmish game well before taking up zombie gaming.
The Two Hour Wargames Chain Reaction system has evolved into many, many different sets of rules covering periods as diverse as Ancients to Space, but all of them have at their core the same system of I act you react, I react to your reaction and so on, a game mechanic I really like.
I imagined gunfights with shoootouts, going back and forwards as one side or the other got the upper hand and this is basically what you can get with this system.
You can see from the left hand photo that the core rules in use then were CR3.0 these were "updated" with CR3.0 "final version" and have since been updated with CR3.1 "Final (final) version".
The changes between the sets of rules are sometimes subtle and easily missed between versions whilst other changes are complete overhauls.
The beauty of the entire system though is one of  "pick and mix" what you do and don't like.
I didn't like the single characteristic given to each figure (Reputation or more simply REP) that dictated how good the character was at everything they did and opted to have several characteristics, shooting, melee etc, to make the game a bit more like a role-play game.  The game is generally accepted to be a roleplay "Lite" (Americanism) meaning it has elements of role-play games in, but are basically wargame orientated.
The greatest plaudit for these rules is that "they say what they do on the tin", you can finish a game in two hours, something that appeals to many gamers. 
For those that know the system here a few of the changes implemented by 3.1 final, final version, in  no particular order.
The "In-sight" test has changed (again). This is the key feature that starts the reaction system and this is the third incarnation of its implementation that I know of.
Reaction tests have been somewhat streamlined but the old reaction of  "hunkering down"  has re-appeared.
The Meleeing rules have changed subtly, no penalty for being unarmed and a mandatory test for Grunts (read rank and file) having to break off from melee is no longer present.
I haven't looked at the sections for setting up a terrain as I think I  have enough experience to set up a terrain for a game without having rules for it, but they're still there !
The rules for Potential Enemy Forces (PEFs) have had a slight overhaul in both their generation and effects, which I will need to think about before deciding whether or not to use them. 
As I've always done (and is actually encouraged by Ed at THW) I'll be altering and adopting rules to fit with my way of playing including some of these latest ideas.
I also recommend anyone trying any of the THW rules to join the THW Forum where a lot of answers to questions about the rules can be found.
 Did I also mention that the CR3.1 rules are free as are the "Swordplay final version 3.1 " rules ?
Well, they're both available from the THW site as free downloads with only the slightest techy knowledge needed ! Even with just these two downloads it is easy to see how one game mechanic can be applied  across two different genres.

That's it for this week, with World Cup matches getting sparser  I've done much less on my zombie project other than a lot of zombie fiction reading and rules writing. Next week though I'm hoping to have finished three more scenic pieces to blog about.
As always you comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Two Small Sheds (and one World Cup)

Doo Dah, Doo Dah.
I was idly waiting for the adverts to finish and some World Cup match to start and thought "I should be building something !". There is a lot of waiting around for matches to start (and half times) whilst pundits drone on about something or other.
So, armed with my usual selection of tools, some very thin card (about the same as a cereal packet, but with no shiny side) and the inevitable coffee stirrers, I set about making a garden shed, which turned into two when I realised how small they actually were.
Shed 1
Both sheds have the same basic dimensions, a footprint of 55mm x 75mm, wall height of 35mm and height to roof ridge of 80mm.
The orientation of the roof ridge is the only different aspect  of either building.
I made a continuous net of the walls and intended to fold them into a rectangle, rather than make individual walls then glue together. This method is not recommended for larger buildings as the result is anything but rectangular.
Shed 2
Once the net was finished and cut out, coffee stirrers were glued to the side and clamped whilst they set. (I only worked about 15 minutes on one wall at any time). The wood glue I used took about 45 minutes to dry sufficiently to enable more work do be done on the model (very convenient).
 The bases for the sheds were cut roughly rectangular and glued to the folded walls.
The roof was another single folded piece of this very flimsy card, but was reinforced internally with pieces of scrap wood.
A piece of paper was glued to the card then trimmed for size; next more glue and a sprinkling of some fine sand to get the felt roof effect (tar paper I believe it's called in the US) that is prevalent on sheds.
Shed 2, rear
Matchsticks on the edges of the roof, to glue the paper to and some more coffee stirrers for the barge boards either end of the roof completed as much effort as I was going to  put into these.
The internal windows frames were tile spacers I picked up a year or so ago, whilst the surrounding frame was split and filed coffee stirrers. The doors for the two sheds are a triple layer - very thin card in the centre with coffee stirrers clad to the outside. I had my first attempt at making a pole hinge from paper clips on both doors so they opened (turned out to be more fiddly than it was worth). I'd have been quite happy with doors glued in place, but I'd probably get grief from "you know who".

Inside Shed 1
Internally you can see that the shed walls were each reinforced with two lengths of coffee stirrers, at the top of the wall and at about 20mm from the bottom of the wall (level with the lower edge of the windows). There were also four vertical coffee stirrers used, again to strengthen the models but also to provide extra gluing contact where the walls met.
The floors were sprayed with a black undercoat before the coffee stirrer floor boards were cut to size and glued in place.
The hole in the rear of shed 2 was made purposely as a feature btw !
Inside Shed 1 (different view)

 Windows were given two vertical edges, the tops and bottom edges conveniently using the internal supporting beams as can be seen on the photographs.

Internal clutter of course was a must once I had decided that the roof would lift off.
 Most of the internal rubbish came from a small stock of things I'd already made namely the books, newspapers and sacks that can be seen in the photographs.

The poster seen on the walls of Shed 1 all came from the interweb (of course) and were reduced in size.

Inside Shed 2
In Shed 2, I made a short bench for one side out of a lolly-pop stick rather than a stirrer to make it look more substantial.
The green twisted piece of wire, representing a garden hose was an easy addition whilst the tyre was from one of the wrecks I'm making as my next project, covered in a piece of tissue.
The petrol can and oil drum that can be seen in the two sheds came from my friend Stu a few weeks ago. (He's currently making and casting his own buildings !)
Whenever I've made models for this project, I'm always aware that figures have to fit in them or on them. If I make a balcony, for example, then it's only logical that someone would want to put a figure on it.  and hence space has to be made for the figure to fit.
These two sheds follow the same principles, I've left enough space to get at least three figures in each (on 20mm bases) and I've left space in front of the windows and the door for figure placement too.
These  two models took about 7 days to complete, which is probably about 7 hours overall, excluding drying time.
The slip-shod paintwork will never win any prizes, but it's sufficient for my wargaming purposes.

That's it then for another week, thanks for looking and as always your comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hazmat Crew

Leader type (on the right) with support.
I received these figures as a Xmas (2012) present from my son; they are of course all "Hasslefree" miniatures.
Three support guys
Although I've never actually dealt with "Hasslefree", my son has and he has nothing but praise for their service and of course their figures ! I have avoided "Hasslefree" not just due to their cost, which is well beyond my shoe-string wargames budget, but also because I doubt I could ever do painting justice to the minis and there are a lot cheaper, usable figures about.
At one time they had a very limited range of a mere four guys, but the range is much better now with all the figures I would want from such a team. There are two Scientist types (one with lap-top and one with a detector wand thing), an obvious candidate for a leader, a flamethrower and general support figures armed with assault rifles.
My two flamethrowers.

All the "grunts" are slightly differently posed and are very dynamic. There isn't one of them that I don't like.
Their weapons are in line with the scale of the figures (I'm guessing about 1/60th) and are probably identifiable to those that know these things. I've seen a lot worse weapons on recent figures that show much less detail and only barely resemble what they're meant to be - I've mistaken barrels on rifles for silencers on more than one occasion!

Computer & detector guys
My biggest bugbear with these figures is of course that they're "slottas". I'm not going into another rant about why slottas are bad (they are), why they're a con (they are) or why so many people have bee duped into thinking they look good (they don't).
I have removed the abominable slot-fitting lead and filed them down to fit into the 20mm washers I've used on on nearly all my figures. not an arduous task but I did manage to lose two or three ends off rifles and one of the flamethrowers, such is the price to pay.
Group shot.

The colour scheme is made up without reference to any real-life one, so don't go looking for it; in any event, it seems that Hazmat suits come in a wide variety of colours.

In other news, blogger's dashboard seem to only be reporting a single entry on the "reading list" of blogs, so apologies if I miss anyone's recent blog posts in the near future. I'm sure it will be rectified soon.

Lastly let me welcome my latest follower whom I believe is "George" and as always all comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Bob the Builder will he make it ?

My previous scenario "A day in the Burbs" finished with the "heroes" fleeing in a taxi leaving Bob in the situation shown in the photograph with a zombie bearing down on him. (The zombie isn't going backwards, but his head is !) There was a single depleted spawn point and that would be Bob's exit. The zombies from the previous game are all still present and there are no new PEFs or any other set-up situations to consider as I considered this a continuation of the previous game.
The encounter rating  (ER) for the area was now "3".
This was a new venture for me, in that it would be the first game I've played solo !
Starting positions and other features are shown below:
Notice the dice, tape measure and the two figures (top right corner) still littering the table. 

 The yellow circles shown the various zombies still in play, whilst Bob and his immediate threat of a zombie is in the red circle, in the bottom right of the table.
The six spawn points are numbered 1 to 6, from the left hand edge clockwise around the table.
Spawn point 2 has been depleted (no zombies will spawn from that point) and is Bob's escape point.
"Bugger this for a game of soldiers, I'm off"
Bob has a score of '3' in all his abilities (equivalent to a REP 3 character in ATZ/FFO) and is your typical tea-swilling Brickie.
He has a hammer on his left thigh and is a bit of a Mooch (a random character attribute).
I would be playing as Bob in this, my first ever solo game and had decided from the off that he would just leg it.
On turn one the zombie crashed into the fence, failing to smash through it, Bob, recognised the zombie as a zombie and took off running.
"Bloody sand !"
Elsewhere on the table the zombies mourned for their loss of their meals on wheels as the taxi took off into the distance.
Turn two saw the zed chasing Bob once more try to break through the fence to get at its fast escaping lunch whilst Bob negotiated the pile of crap that some inconsiderate individual had blocked the exit with.
"Which way did they go George ?"
Elsewhere the zombies had lost sight of their tinned food (the taxi) and were wandering aimlessly about wondering where their next meal was coming from and probably complaining about how hard it was these days being a zombie and the inhumanity shown to those being the living dead. 
"There's one !"

Turn 3 and once more Bob put distance between himself and erstwhile pursuer. At this point I calculated that Bob was about 3 or 4 turns away from safety if he managed to keep running and if he didn't he could still easily outpace the zombies, providing none arrived at spawn point 3, the closest one to Bob. At this stage the scenario looked like it could easily turn into another "walk in the park".

"Food over here chaps !"

The zombies though seemed buoyed by the arrival of another three of their kind, but as they arrived at Spawn point 6, well behind where Bob was, I wasn't bothered.
However as Bob had arrived within 24" of two of the zombies already present, they turned and began their slow trudge towards him.
Even with a standard move of 6" for Bob and 4" for the zombies Bob would easily outpace them, but Bob would still attempt to keep running (just in case)

"I'm nearly there..."

 Turn four and Bob was making ground on the pursuing zombies though he was attracting more as he got closer to them. They were so far off now though it wouldn't make a difference.
Turn five resulted in two humans entering the table, one ahead of Bob in the trees (promptly named Pamela), the other on the road (Sally) .  Pamela can just be seen in the top middle left of the photo whilst Sally can be seen in the middle right.
The closing zombies weren't making any real inroads towards closing the distance to the humans !
"I wonder what I did with my..."
 On turn six Bob was out of breath and decided to stand panting in the trees and both "Pam the pan" and "suitcase Sal" (as they were now known) also checked to do whatever it is that women do when they stop suddenly.
This could well turn out to be a disaster for Bob as the two closest zombies moved to within 6" of him in the trees and would enable them to attack should they get the initiative on him next turn. (I allow the zombies a "frenzy" move of 6" to attack if within 6" of humans.)
Bob hits the deck !
I could see the way this was going when on the next turn the Zombies, almost as predicted, got the initiative and managed to get one of their number into an attack on Bob.
Bob fought valiantly, failing to get a single success against the zombie and promptly fell down stunned at the foot of his undead attacker, who in all probability was already licking his lips. All was not lost however as "Pam the pan" was witness to the vile attack on Bob by the two rough looking ne’er-do-wells; the other zombies were closing in very slowly.
"Suitcase Sal" carried on without a care.

Sal and her brieface fending off the zombie
Turn seven and Suitcase Sal being the modern woman that she was recognised that the frenzied zombie was trying to give her more than just a love bite. She held her nerve (passed the Brown panties roll) and in a very even fight (three dice each) she swings her briefcase at the head of the zombie. However, unlike in films, where the briefcase would smash the zombie's head in, the briefcase itself smashed, leaving her locked in combat and at a disadvantage for another turn .

Turn 7, Pam rushes in
Bob, still stunned and on the ground was the target of two zombies now. With five dice versus one in the zombies' favour (I was being generous and gave Bob a single die) the first zombie achieved a mere single success (Bob, being the hero that he wasn't, didn't). This was of luckily insufficient to put Bob out of the fight, but the second attack did. Pam of course could still save Bob, if she passed her Man Down test, her Brown panties test, a fast move test and her Zed or no Zed test.
Surprisingly she passed all three - sufficient to close and melee with zombies - Bob could still be saved and dragged to safety !  
In the ensuing even fight, Pam managed to knock the first zombie down, down but not out unfortunately ! No new zombies appeared and spawn point '1' was depleted, yielding another, but even less attractive, escape route.
Event turn 8
Turn eight brought with it an event that could provide hope for Bob yet !
A crackling radio somewhere near Bob, sprang to life and providing it crackled long enough then it may give "Pam the pan" sufficient time to rescue the fallen Bob!  On the down side the radio did of course come with a free zombie too.
Two vehicles also arrived on the Table, a big rig cab appeared at spawn point 5, whilst a blue family saloon (sedan) appeared at spawn point 6.
Due to the ineptness of the official photographer, the blue saloon doesn't appear on any photo. It arrived turn eight, turned left and departed turn 9 via spawn point '1' and didn't add to the scenario at all.
Both vehicles would have their routes determined by random dice each time they 'hit' a junction. They had a speed of three (18") and their civilian drivers would have a '3' for all their abilities.
Situation at the end of turn 8 (the radio can just be seen)
The zombies gained initiative (of course) and of the two nearest Pam, one attacked whilst the other stood up. Pam easily fended off the first but her nerve didn't hold and she broke from melee seeking the safety of the nearby depleted spawn point she had emerged from. The radio, of course, right on cue, fell dead.
Similarly "Suitcase Sal" had had enough of the now uneven contest and having survived the zombie attack, she too fled.
(There was no choice in either of the above as both Pam and Sue had to dice to see if they remained in melee or broke off from the melee).
Turn nine arrived and the zombies stood around bemused for no apparent reason, perhaps the new noise of the big-rig cab distracted them, but in any event they were inactive ! Pam's nerve failed her yet again and she headed to safety whilst Sal decided to break into a walk ( now in the trees she probably found it too difficult to walk i high heels). Meanwhile the big-rig driver continued on, oblivious to everything.
The remaining part of the game saw Sal still strolling to safety and Pam still fleeing and whilst some zombies attacked the truck ( !? - I know) others started on their long awaited "ready meal" i.e. Bob.

Sal, strolling to freedom-"Run ? Not in these heels on grass !"

The truck leaving the table skilfully missed one of the attacking zombies, but did manage to  side-swipe one into a gooey mess and knock another one down, generating a further single zombie though from its engine noise. 
As there was no hope now of rescuing Bob, Sal now also headed towards the safety of Pam's exit point.

Three more zombies were spawned (at spawn point 5) but wouldn't have any effect on the game.
"That's a big 10-4 squished Rubber Duck"

The truck couldn't be stopped and Sal had only two moves to make it to freedom (without fast moving) which she did whilst the zombies continued to gorge themselves on Bob's ample mass.

At that point I called the game.
No new human elements had arrived and there were no humans left on the table

The game had taken about two or three hours and had been highly entertaining; photography limited to a lot fewer shots than I normally take due to camera battery difficulties.

So the original question of "Bob the Builder will he make it ?" turned out to be a resounding "No he won't" though he did have a good chance to do so, had he been given a bit of luck late on.

That's it then for this week and as always your comments are both welcomed and appreciated.

Monday, 9 June 2014

WOW ! (and Wow again)

"WOW and WOW again" was how I reacted to opening the parcel I received in the post recently.
It was no surprise that a parcel would be arriving given that I'd won a prize on Tamsin's Blog "Wargaming Girl". 
The parcel was about half the size of a brick, which I thought was odd given that the prize was a single gangster figure (and very well painted as the photograph shows).

The overly large parcel also contained the Lledo yellow taxi that had featured on her blog and that I'd commented upon. Tamsin's current project is "Gangsters" and she has gone with the larger Matchbox "Yesteryear" models after comparing different sized vehicles and thus this was seemingly surplus to her requirements.
It fits in well with my own collection of Lledo models and I've looked around for one a year or so ago, but to no avail. Now if only I could find the identical model in the police livery !(hint).
It's been said many a time about how generous the blogging community is and I've been humbled by such generosity on a few occasions so I really shouldn't be that surprised, but I always am.
I'm now fully recovered from the exhausting weekend away and have gone back to painting a few figures whilst watching even more dross on TV. As painting doesn't hold my attention for more than an hour I've written up my reviews of the last few zombie films that I've watched. These include "Battle of the Damned"; the "Dawn of the Dead" remake; "Before Dawn"; "House of the Dead" and "Against the Dark" (a film I featured in last week's blog). My pick of the bunch though was "Kill Zombie !", advertised as "A comic splatterfest" which although intially filling me with dread, turned out to be quite entertaining.
My painting however did suffer another set-back, but this time in a good cause as I fitted in a game!
Following on from my scenario "A Day in the Burbs" I was about to clear the table ready for the next scenario I have planned, but was struck by Bob's predicament and wondered if he'd make it to safety.
The previous game had finished with the "heroes" fleeing in a taxi leaving Bob in the situation shown in the photograph with a zombie bearing down on him. (The zombie isn't going backwards, but his head is !) There was a single depleted spawn point and that would be Bob's exit. The other zombies in the game were still present  and there were no PEFs or any other set-up situations to worry about.
This was also a new venture for me, in that it would be the first game I've played solo !
So the scenario "Bob the Builder - Will he Make it ?" will be the subject of next week's post.

That's it then for another week, as always your comments and thoughts are both welcomed and appreciated.