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

Monday 23 February 2015

Spills, Tapers & Stirrers

Pipe Spills
Given a comment made about the use of coffee stirrers on another blog I'd thought I'd respond with a post about said stirrers.
I first came across these sort of things being used by my Grandad using them to light his pipe from an open coal fire, in those days they were called spills !

A Bunsen burner, not just a muppet
It wasn't until I became a teacher and spotted the familiar spills (now called tapers) being used in our science labs to light Bunsen burners, they were very rough, showed the texture and grain of the wood and ideal for planking, being easy to cut and glue they are about 8" long (yes I still have some).
The lab tapers came in bundles of a 1000 and I could buy them via the many educational catalogues myself for
personal use.
The great advantage that I found with these other than those mentioned above was their ends being cut square. (the occasional splinter in the finger from them didn't detract from their usefulness.

  The difficulty of getting further supplies of these became apparent when I left teaching and my small hoard of them became ever more valuable to me at least)
 Enter the age of the Coffee Stirrers (we're talking wood here, not he plastic variety); I'd never thought of using these until being hospitalised in 2011 and realised their worth as a fair substitute for my dwindling supply of "the real thing".
Coffee stirrers
They can easily be found in many Cash and Carry stores and your local barista may also be able to help supply you with them.
They do come in several lengths but the ones I currently get are about 5" long (125mm). They generally have have rounded ends and are as smooth as a very smooth thing.

Spills, Tapers or Stirrers, call them what you will, all share a very useful common characteristic in that they can be cut very easily. (Unlike the typical hobby lollipop sticks which can double as support timbers in mines and require power tools to work on - rant over).

The fairly boring lesson chart
So here's a few things I've learnt from their use.
As can be seen  from the above (non professional) helpful chart, not all coffee stirrers are created  equal.
Stirrers #1 is a typical stirrer and you'll find that you'll use more of these that you ever estimate you will. (I guessed I'd use about 50 for my Water Tower model and ended up using about 90).
Nos. 2 and 3 are mutants, due to their twists and deformities, these are mostly useful; for cutting bits from or making some form of mutant ice hockey stocks for a Barbie doll (maybe)
Sticks #4 are two sticks that I started to make usable for modelling by cutting one end off. I tend to do about twenty or so before turning them all around and cutting the other end off if I'm using single sticks.
#5 is two sticks being glued together, notice that at this stage each stick has only one end cut, when the stick is glued (I use Evo stick wood glue) I then cut the extra bits off the ends, using the already !square cut" as a guide. If you stuck two sticks together that had previously had both their ends cut off,
 Picture #8 is four sticks gluing together and held by clamps. This can be used repeating the above, gluing two sticks either side and cutting off afterwards, or by gluing two sets of two together and clamping in place. I use both , but the latter does leave you with a cut through a double thickness of stirrer whilst the former doesn't.
 Finally Picture #9 shows a finished piece useful for a beam etc. It has had it sides filed flat and the ends squared off a bit, but little else has been done to it.
If I were to use this and had to cut the piece again then I'd be using  either a hacksaw or razor saw.

In other news I read two very interesting old posts on Kieian B's blog Do you have a flag,
The first that caught my eye was this Beating-hobby-burnout... which although the post is nearly a year old, it did address many of the thoughts I've had lately.
The second was a much older post, (by nearly three years)  entitled Blogs v Forums. It also gave clarity to apparent malaise or apathy on one of the forums I currently visit.

That's it for this week.

Monday 16 February 2015

Three years on

A '3', neither good nor bad.
Yes, this blog has now been in existence for a week over three years.
The origial purpose of the blog was to chart and share my progress through the my zombie project.
Well, the project has reached the stage now where I have sufficient buildings, figures and most everything else that is needed to play my games in the way I wanted to.
Of course there are always other buildings, figures or pieces of  scenery that I can add, after all are we ever truly finished any wargame project ?
So what have I actually learnt from the three years of blogging about this project ?
When starting a blog I did get some a lot of good advice and help from the wonderful blogging community (especially the niche zombie one), things like always posting at a regular time (there's nothing like deadlines to motivate) and replying to all comments made. The comments I've had to my posts have always been the greatest thing to spur me on and I've always tried to make constructive comments on the other blogs  I've visited. Bloggers themselves are very generous for the most part.
In the early days I was always excited to get a new follower but often wondered why some didn't make more than a single comment. I wasn't aware that nearly all those making comments had their own blogs and from what I could tell expected a reciprocal approach to becoming a follower of their blog -naturally! (How naive was I ?) 
The 'numbers game' of most followers, most views (hits) etc. never interested me, unlike a lot of bloggers who seem quite obsessed with these numbers.
I've also never 'pimped' my blog although I have seen it mentioned on a few forums other than the single 'zombie' forum I occasionally visit (forums are another great opportunity for the number chasers, their comments being of the single word type ("nice", "I agree" or a smiley emoticon).
Those who take great stead in their 'hits' should try looking at their post titles, this is what search engines 'see' and will give added 'hit's, (just try looking at your stats page on your blogger dashboard to see which search terms are generating hits for some wonderful examples or place the word 'boob' in your topic - even an innocent one such as "I've made a boob" will have a huge amount of hits.
So "Why all this despondency ?" I hear you asking.
A few things have happened lately that have affected me greatly enough to have me rethinking about whether or not to carry on blogging, some personal reasons and others that have irked me and that I've touched on above.
When I type my blog or leave a comment on a blog I normally do so with a smile on my face and if I haven't got anything constructive to say then I tend to say nothing.

I welcome my latest follower "Jay" from the very entertaining blog "Jay's Miniature Enterprises" , well worth a visit.

That's it then my 'downer' post number 160, three years on from the then very exciting post #1 !

Monday 9 February 2015

Securing Territory

General view from the starting position
This scenario is the second one in the Ganger series of scenarios from the THW supplement "Haven". The gang members from the previous scenario have to once more secure six buildings by searching them for occupants, accepting the protection of the gang or leaving the area.
This scenario at least had a definite victory condition of securing all six buildings, but I did allow the gang to have the opportunity to search the two buildings they missed on their first attempt.
Aerial view

The aerial view of the table shows the gang's starting position in the bottom right, shown by a red diamond, the buildings they had to secure, more or less in the order they intended to visit them and two of the more interesting encounters that occurred during the game. The blue line is their route.
The gang 

The gang from left to right, "Gunny" (replacing the figure from the first scenario to one with an assault rifle), Hendricks  and the leader Jerome.
 Turn one and immediately there was an event (getting a bit monotonous), but this time it was the welcome addition to the gang of another well armed gang member. - 'Yay'

The gang of four !
The gang doing what they do best - walking about !
I allowed two figures to be actively i the doorway, even though I could only physically get one in place. The first house turned out to be a non-event, a rival ganger who immediately fled.
Anybody home ?
 The second house proved far more lucrative for the gang as there were three civilians all eager to agree to the demands of the heavily armed gang.
Hey, another homie !
The next house, one they hadn't searched from the original scenario turned out to have another ganger who quickly joined their growing band.
Another empty  building.
Three more willing volunteers here !
Two hapless civilians encountered
Two civilians were encountered as the gang carried on their searches, the civilians wanted nothing to do with the gang and vice versa.- Who could blame them ?
Haven't we already been here ?

Moving on
 As the gang approached the penultimate building there was another event - the infamous barking dog, who luckily this time was only pursued by a single zombie.
"ooh look a cute dog and a ...."
The newest recruit was the only one of the gang able to see the approaching dog and the zombie following it. As the zombie approached within 6" a zed or no zed test resulted in the new recruit ducking back into the cover of the stoop, shouting "zombie"
As the zombie approached it was realised that none of the gang had ever been within 6" of a zombie and that they would all need to take the zed or no zed test as the zombie approached.
Hendricks immediately decided he didn't like them either and he too ducked behind the stoop.

placing the figure from the first scenario to one with an assault rifle), Hendricks  and the leader Jerome.
"Follow me guys...erm guys ?
Jerome decided they would all fight the zombie rather than risk gunfire attracting more.
Hendricks and the new recruit ( hastily named Michaela), both recovered from their duck back and attempted  a charged around the corner. Whilst Michaela succeeded, Hendricks though better of it and stayed put, soon joined by both Hoody and their leader Jerome. This left just  Michaela fighting the zed.
Barely winning the fight Michaela knocked the zombie down  whilst both Hoody and Jerome stay where they are Hendricks decides to pluck up enough courage to take a peek around the corner.
Gunny obviously has a case of nerves and heads for the hills.

"Three to one - should be easy enough"
"On second thoughts"
 Before Michaela could act the zombie stood up once more; she was quickly joined by two of her friends ready to tackle the single zombie.
All the gangers' melee skills were about average and they all had a melee weapon too, but even their five dice against the zombie's three were insufficient for the first melee as Hoody went down under the claws of the zombie and with a roll of a '1' she was doa. The remaining two melees went off much better and the zombie was dead for good this time.
Seeing their fellow ganger go down didn't seem to have any effect on the remaining gangers, as Michaela searched the body and Jerome and Hendricks made off to investigate the last house.
And that's that
 They had to quickly do an about face as Hoody stood up as a zombie (each turn I throw a die for each dead character to see if they 'turn', this one did on the first time of asking !).
Michaela luckily dispatched the newly formed zombie and all three quickly went to the last house.
"Come back here - you"
The last house had a single civilian in it who quickly fled the scene and that was the last action of the game.

An interesting, if fairly uneventful scenario saved by the little action that there was at the end.
Rather than plunge into the third scenario, I decided to make a ganger scenario of my own that will be the next game I play.

That's it then for this week a little later than planned for various reasons.

Monday 2 February 2015

Back in the Hood

Part of the East Side district of Perdition
This scenario is the first Gangers' scenario from the ATZ supplement Haven.
It's a very basic scenario and I used their encounter table from the scenario, rather than the normal decks of event cards, sticking as close as possible to the original, but using my own rule addenda.
There were to be no PEFs (Possible Enemy Forces), nor would I have zombies spawning onto the table, but they could be attracted by gunfire and other noise.
Rather than go through a blow by blow account, I'll let the photographs tell the story, with only minimal editorial interjection.
Map view
In this scenario a lone gang leader (Jerome) had to visit 6 houses in his hood and recruit member of his gang from six buildings.
His starting position is the red star in the bottom left and the six buildings are numbered in the order he visited them, even though his original plan was exactly the opposite !
His route is shown by the blue arrowed lines.

Starting Position, within 1 move of the first building.

The buildings he had to visit also had vehicles outside them, for quick reference.
He was armed with a BA pistol and knife and had fairly modest stats:
Initiative 4, Leadership 4, Shooting 3, Melee 4, Fitness 3 and Driving 3, but he could hot-wire any vehicle almost at will (an attribute)

Turn 1 and an event !
 Yep, before even having a chance to get started Jerome was faced by the infamous barking dog and his gang of zombie groupies
No plan survives contact with the enemy
 Faced with this, Jerome did the sensible thing and legged it in the opposite direction
Like Jerome, the dog legged it too !

The zombies soon gave up chasing the dog

At the first house - phew.
 At the first house he was confronted by a civilian armed with a shotgun, but luckily the dice gods were benign and the civilian fled at the sight of the ganger (his die roll was a '1'), so Jerome lived to fight another day. The second house proved more fruitful and the sugar-tongued Jerome convinced one of his bros to join him. (usefully armed with a machine pistol and knife)
Jerome and his new ally
Another event - a single zombie "Run for your lives !"

 Once more Jerome quickly took to his heels followed by his new but not-so swift companion as a zombie appeared across the street from them
"Oh shucks, he's got a gun !"

"Oh bother, so has he"

Seemingly now dogged by events a rival ganger ( a white supremacist we suggested) rounded the corner of a yard to confront Jerome armed with an assault rifle ! After one shot each (part of the scenario rules), the rival ducked-back stunned behind the cover of the fence.
Note the zombie attracted by all the racket.
 They bravely rushed to the corner to confront their cowering opponent and shot him dead.
"Take that you cad !"

(the white counters indicate noise - in this case one 'noise counter' per gunshot)
"Yay, we're bad-asses"
 Once more, at the trot, they moved up the nearby alleyway,  having stopped briefly to relieve the corpse of its assault rifle and pistol 
"And now we are three"
 The next house proved to be as fruitful as the last and another ganger was recruited, who turned out to be quite a shot, (or so they thought) and was therefore immediately given the assault rifle.
"Quick run this way"; "If I could run that way I wouldn't need the talcum powder "
"It's empty chaps"
Arriving at their fourth house they discovered it to be empty but they also attracted the zombies still around from the start of the game.
"Is it time to run yet ?
As the zomies pounded down the street they opened up with a fusillade of shots, taking down two of them !
"What about now?"

They backed off and formed a firing line and whilst their last two targets stood up the others stumbled on.
"It's time now. - Run !"
They  manged to knock down another two zombies and even kill a third but all their gunfire was going to attract more zombies eventually and two more appeared close to them.
"Just keep running"
Their shooting improved sufficiently to kill the two newcomers who were quickly replaced by another from the same place and yet more out of their view behind the building they were alongside.

"A little help here ?"
 A passing family was given little interest (another event)  and they continued their jogging practise past them, leaving them to their fate.
"Come back "
At this point we called it, the gangers had got as far as they were going to and fled to safety.
The scenario had said Victory was increasing your gang in a limited amount of time, but failed to say how long or how many turns that time was. We'd been playing a little over two hours and had had
twenty five turns.
For the next scenario, again taken from the 'Haven' supplement the gangers wold start in the same position as they had finished, with the same gangers, but with a clean zombie-free board.

It was an interesting scenario and enjoyable enough, but not one that I'd be repeating

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