Friday, 29 November 2013

Two's Company...: An Empire of the Dead AAR

Monday night saw Steve, Chris and me jump into a three player game of Empire of the Dead.  Made me recall that show, Three's Company:

An Early Photo of Our Gaming Group - that's me in the middle

We have been aware of the issues of playing three factions at once for some time and I have been keen to find a solution to random ganging up and the like.  I was aware that Games Workshop had released a new book called Triumph and Treachery that has rules for playing multi-player games.  For $150, there is about 4 pages of rules from what I can figure, based around the ability to make alliances and break alliances.

Couldn't be bothered paying that sort of money for that so I decided to play-test some home made alliance rules.  Here is how it worked:

  1. In the maintenance phase any two players could call an alliance.
  2. If an alliance is called, then the players each swap one model from their faction with a model in the others' faction.
  3. That model is then controlled by the other person in the alliance as if it was their model.
  4. In the following maintenance phases each player rolls a d10 to see if the alliance is broken.  On a 7 - 10 it is broken.
  5. When the alliance is broken , the player breaking it gets to activate their model that has been swapped to the other faction during the maintenance phase.  They can move and shoot, or move at the double or whatever.
We played fracas in the end cause we figured that was one of the few scenarios that worked.  Cagey start at first.  Here's the set up:

When Chris and I got close, I summonsed my Zombie horde and Chris looked like getting squashed between that and Jack the Ripper.  He called an alliance.  I agreed, hedging my bets on the basis that I expected the alliance to be broken shortly, given the odds.

The Lycaon looking for trees to urinate under
Gentlemen Looking for Urinating Dogs

Steve continued to take pot shots from the far end of town, using the barrels I had just painted up:

And good evening to you too Mr Skeleton

With Uncle Thulu flying around shooting at a few as well.

Thulu Cam
You can see the Zombies approaching Chris there just before he called the alliance.  Here they are looking for some dog flesh:

Can you smell dog food?
I took out Steve's infernium hound, which they laid to rest in the cemetery:


After: RIP Strange dog thing

Chris and I started to move towards Steve, but in the next maintenance phase Chris broke the alliance.  His figure freaked out (she was with the zombie horde) and ran out into the street only to be nailed in the cross fire from all Steve's waiting constabulary.  Chris had also moved his Beastlord and Packmaster close to the zombie horde and so when I won initiative next they were attacked, with Lord Percival landing five shots from his gatling gun.

The carnage was pretty great for Chris, who lost his Packmaster and a number of others too.  I took out another of Steve's constables, and along with three kills from Chris's faction, came out on top for the evening.

Steve had a quiet night shooting from distance, but got three kills (one of mine and two of Chris') so came second.

The alliance mechanic was fun, but breaking on a 7-10 was perhaps a bit too easy.  Tweak it perhaps to 8 next time, or try not to play 3 player games?

EOTD is fun and not too serious really - it is quite a nice run about from FOW which is pretty intense in comparison.  The alliance does add a fun aspect, but with three players it is hard for all players to have an equal role in the game.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Empire of the Dead Requiem Rules Release

The new PDF rules have been released for the Requiem expansion to Empire of the Dead.  Included are rules for criminal gangs (including Moriarty and his crew and the Inscrutable Tong), and other factions like Nemo and his crew, the Bedlam Brotherhood and the Clickers.

My first read through discovered a number of typos already (they still haven't fixed the long range distance for Lightning Jack for instance, which is "4"), which does detract a little from the overall effect.  Without play testing any of it yet, I do get an overall feeling of there being particular flavours for each faction, which will lead to them being played differently on the table and thereby using different tactics.  That is good - although adding additional complexity, the game is particularly straight forward anyway so it is not difficult to add special rules.

I am keen to get the clickers now - there is a two page back story to this faction which is well done and the manner in which they are played and developed is quite different from any other faction (the additional clickers are summonsed as the game goes on rather than deployed at the start).

You can also harvest body parts and get extra shillings from different body parts harvested from models killed on the table - cool!

Bedlam Brotherhood has a number of rules around combat - most involving the rolling of a D10 before combat with a "1" involved some positive effect (increased strength, fortitude or combat skill) and a 9-10 involving some sort of crazy outcome.  Nipper, for instance, in a fit of pique refuses to fight and resolves the combat as if he is discombobulated and prone.  Hat man, on a "1" turns sides for that turn and allows the other player to activate him as if he was a member of their faction!  Alice gets to use Tom, her cat, as an ally and can set him upon an opponent as well.

Lots of new rules around carriages - shooting from and at carriages and the like.  Looks like there is real scope for car chase sequences across London streets!

There are a number of characters still missing - it seems Prof Cavor (diving suit guy) is left out at this stage and so are the stretch goal guys as well in large part (correct me if I am wrong on that).  I am not sure if they are coming later.

Hopefully Westwind will take the comments back and be flexible enough to tweak these rules before they are finalised, because I would expect there will be some teething problems here.  Also, just a quick look at the costs of some against others, makes me think there is scope for some factions being significantly more powerful versus cost than others.  Guess we will just have play them and find out!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Inspector Uncle Thulu, his pet infernium hound and subordonates

Finally it is time for Detective Inspector Uncle Thulu to emerge from his slumber and take charge of the Triple Six Division, or more commonly known as the Supernatural Branch. Very few know the group by Uncle Thulu's preferred name, Detective Inspector Uncle Thulu and Friends.

Uncle Thulu hanging out with the gang in, err, a gigantic pot plant

So how did this young detective Uncle Thulu, a Empire of the Dead Requiem Stretch Goal, come to be the head of the Supernatural branch? After all he never shaves, he has atrocious table manors, he never brushes his teeth, he smells of seaweed and once he even broke Constable Rupert's arm (story following soon). When Uncle Thulu was a kid he was bullied by his nephew (time is relative (get it???) for Old Ones) Cthulhu. Because of this Uncle Thulu joined the supernatural branch to lead them against the fight of all things supernatural. Plus Thulu has a thing for men in blue. 

Why hello there

Let me take you round my pot plant

It is worth noting a few things about Uncle Thulu in my faction. First he can fly (he has a gyrocopter but I will just pretend that he can fly). However if he gets shot on a 8-10 you shoot his wings which then might malfunction. Second his walking stick doubles as a bludgeon and a pistol. Pretty snazzy!

It took me a while to appreciate Uncle Thulu's black cape. I was very impressed with Dan's painting of Jack the Ripper, namely the black and thought my attempt involving mostly just highlighting the raised areas and leaving the rest black/german grey was a bit silly. However I have grown to appreciate it and now (as a week or so on the shelf does) think it gives it a nice comical look along with the green skin. I was contemplating a olive skin tone but thought that would be a bit to serious for Uncle Thulu and friends. I will save that for his brother Cthulhu. 

Cthulhu model I got of trademe (NZ ebay). I think it was part of the Call of Cthulhu RPG game
I think this guy is pretty cool. 

Next up for the Supernatural Branch is Uncle Thulu's faithful robotic infernium hound CJ7 named after the Stephen Chow film of the same name (which was a kinda average film admittedly). I found this model a little hard to paint although I think this is because my gold tamiya colour wasn't the same great quality as valejo paints which I normally use.

Infernium hound needs a wash after bringing
justice to the streets of London. 

Next up is two more of the Westwind Supernatural Branch police constables . Police Constable Rupert with the light pistol and Police Constable Nettles with the net-gun. 

Constable Rupert on the left had his arm broken by Detective Inspector Uncle Thulu in an arm wrestle. Because he lost he had to give 20 shillings to Uncle Thulu which he donated half to the faction. The reasoning behind this is because in the Empire of the Dead rules if you start with a 200 shilling faction you can take an injury to gain 10 shillings. I decided I wanted to have a full faction with infernium hound and two firearms specialists so needed a little bit of extra cash resulting in an arm injury (-1 strength) for Rupert. 

I think these guys look alright. However I had trouble painting them, I believe due to my ageing brushes. Which leads me to this question, does anyone know where I can get good quality, long lasting, not to expensive paintbrushes. Also what is the best way to look after your brush. Anyhow I hope you can forgive me for my somewhat silly faction backstory and enjoy Doctor Who's 50th anniversary today. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Arkham Horror: Not a dime to her name psychologist part two

After a week of Arkham Horror sitting on the table after a week break mid game (see part one here) we began where we left off. Except of course another investigator joined us and adjusted the rules accordingly for a 7 player game. I guess it is worth briefly mentioning one of the great things of this game is the ability to play with up to 8 players although this does have its issues, namely people getting off topic.

What my Psychologist looked like mid game. 

As you recall my once Axe Wielding Psychologist took a turn for the worst. But would things turn out ok for her this time round. After all I had restored her to full stamina just before finishing up. First round I decided, screw it, I am going to go explore another world, this one was called Yuggoth, great name… How could it possbibly go wrong, as my friend and co-investigator said “I can think of a lot of ways”. First stop on my way to the gate was the Library, after all I was a learned psychologist. My encounter went something like this, “As you explore the library a books start whispering dark secrets to you, loose one sanity”. Hmmp, not even a skill check to save me. I’m not going to the Library again, ever.

By this time there was only three doom tokens needed to awaken Ithaqua the alien terror we were trying to prevent from spreading evil around the world, assuming that was his motive. I bravely jumped through a portal to another dimension Yuggoth to join my college Alex, “fancy seeing you here Alex”, we exchanged greetings in Yuggoth. First encounter “You hide behind a rock panting. The scurrying which has been chasing you seemed to have gone, no encounter”. Considering my luck it could have been worse, but hiding behind a rock, pffft what a sissy. I was feeling a little ripped of as the other investigators were getting items from some of their encounters. Alas it beats being mugged like I was previously. I moved to the next section of Yuggoth (other worlds have two parts where you have to have an encounter in each). I cant remember the encounter but it was a success! Yippee not so axe wieldery psychologist finally passed a test!

However when I returned to Arkham we were only one doom token off Ithaqua awakening and destroying us all. My fellow gang of other worldly investigators said, don’t close the gate because if another gate opens in its place (rather than a monster surge which happens if you don’t close a gate) Ithaqua will be unleashed. Being the risky psychologist that I am I said, I haven’t achieved nothing, plus I don’t want a monster surge on my (the alternative to a gate opening and a doom token being placed on the monsters doom track) location perceiving that as the worst of the two options so I went ahead and closed that sucker! Take that Yuggoth.

Whats that! I actually acheived something, I closed a gate to Yuggoth.

Ithaqua vs team why does the fate of humanity rest on
a random group of people (they need a more concise name)

I knew at this point I would be sorely treated by the gang if a gate opened on my location 'The Unnameable', fortunately a gate did not open there however one opened at 'The Cave'. This caused a fracture in the very fabric of reality, unleashing the mighty Ithaqua. I thought we were toast. The battle began, he had 77 hit points and with a -3 skill check we had to roll quite a few successes. That is exactly what we did. My first roll of fight 4, no weapons, -3 thus rolling one die was a successes! We took him down about 30HP the first round. Next round Chris gave me a Dread Curse, at the cost of two sanity and passing a -3 lore skill check I succeeded getting an additional 9 dice to my roll. Nice. I gave Ithaqua a hammering that round. In the end it only took three rounds to beat him with no deaths. Arkham and quite probably the rest of the world was saved...

Ithaqua feeling the pain of my Dread Curse! 

Team photo after defeating Ithaqua,
I am 2nd from the right next to Dan (far right). 

What a victory! It was quite a fun night finishing off the game involving plenty of laughs. The final battle did seem disappointingly easy but looking through the other old ones the game provides this was probably the second easiest. The Dunwich Horror should arrive in the mail soon so hopefully we will take it for a spin in a a few weeks. Next up however Empire of the Dead and maybe even Battlestar Galactica the game. 

Uncle Thulu, coming from another dimension soon

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gentlemen with Guns aka Boys with Toys

Over the last week I have been working through the blister pack of Gentlemen with Guns.  Robert over at Fiends in Waistcoats posted about some of the difficulties with one of the models (Hon Harold Carfax) in particular: see here.  Apart from those issues, this was a reasonably straightforward project.  I based them on Secret Weapon's cobblestone bases (from NZ's Slave to Painting), which I really like and which do help to give them a bit extra.

Here they are:

The Band of Brothers

Thomas Gunn

And again

John Rushkin

Hon Harold Carfax

And from Behind

Lord Carstairs

John Browne
From the front

And on the side
You will see that I tried out some new patterns on John Brown and Hon Harold Carfax there - it took me a while and I would be interested in everyone's views on that.  I toned down the pattern with a wash and a drybrush at the end, but I'm not sure whether it is too dull now.

Anyhow, pretty pleased with these fellows and they should get a run next Monday when we play Empire of the Dead next.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Arkham Horror and the Axe Wielding Psychologist: part 1

Monday night saw our gaming group playing a game of Arkham Horror. I had to wipe the dust off the box due to how long it takes to play. It hardy ever sees the light of day, or night. Or perhaps my gaming group is normally too frightened to play. Luckily we had a plan, play in the games room and leave the game set up to finish off the following week.

For those who don’t know, Arkham Horror is an epic co-operative game where you all take the role of investigators of H. P. Lovecraft alien terrors such as Cthulhu. The investigators traverse the town of Arkham and other dimensions closing portals to other worlds to try and stop the alien terror / old one. In our case, the old one was the abominable snowman Ithaqua. I will share the first half of the game from my experience as Carolyn Fern, an axe wielding psychologist, what could possibly go wrong…

Axe Wielding Psychologist...
What could possibly go wrong indeed! My first turn involved me going to a creaky old house in Arkham called “The Unnameable” on the way to Ye Ol’ Majik Shoppee to get myself some magic! We joked that the game designers had ran out of Lovecraft locations so ended up calling this location the Unnameable. Yet, old creaky houses are never a good idea. During the encounter phase, first turn, my encounter sounded something like this… "You hear rats in the walls, when is too late you realise they are moving to surround you! Roll some kind of skill check and if you fail get lost in time and space." COME ON! Getting lost in time and space due to some silly rats in the walls of a house with no name. In the end it wasn’t so bad as getting lost in space and time only involves missing a turn then going to any location you choose in Arkham, nice!

Things were back on track for my investigator, although the once quiet streets of Arkham were getting crowded with monsters and gates to other worlds were popping up all over the place. I spent $5 out of my $7 to get myself a spell - little did I know this was to be my undoing.  It was getting high time to try and close some gates so I thought rather than pissing around as I had been doing I would join my fellow investigators and go on a journey to some alternate realities. One other world adventure particularly of note was Chris Kirby AKA the magician Drake (who also had a carnival in the North side streets as the result of a mythos card). While in the Dream lands he had a skill check which he needed to pass, Chris only had three dice... What do you know he passes, all 5+ which is what you need to pass a skill check! Unfortunately for Chris once he got out and closed the gate another gate opened right on top of him so he got sucked into the Abyss.

Chris' successes

On my way to a gate I stopped into the Silver twilight lounge. At the top of my game, full health, an axe, I drew an encounter which read: Join our pretty neat club for $3 or we will beat you up and put you on the street or something like that. Unfortunately as you recall I only had $2! I failed passed my check to sneak away so as a result lost 3 of my 4 stamina and then was subject to Ithaqua’s special ability which makes you loose a stamina if you are on the streets at the end of a round due to icy winds. Brrr.

Gaarh! My investigator was frozen stiff and while recovering in Arkham emergency department the hospital staff stole half my precious equipment including my gorram (wrong game, thinking of Firefly there) axe! Bastards. They did a bad job of healing me only returning me to 1 stamina and after loosing 3 stamina and I was hardly going to spend my last $2 to return to full health. (When you get KOed in Arkham you have to discard half you items) Big mistake, the next round I got in an arm wrestle with some punk at the university costing me my single unit of stamina knocking me unconscious again, other half of my positions gone although this time I paid to restore my health. No longer an axe wielding psychologist, I was Mrs "Not-a-dime" to her name psychologist Fern. It was at this time we called it quits for the night to return next week to finish the game.

No money to her name psychologist Fern
I guess its worth mentioning how the game was going for the rest of the team while I was, err, wasting time. People were out killing monsters left right and centre, some were braving the other worlds closing gates. However were we completing our ultimate aim of closing all the gates. Hard to say, there were 2 or 3 open gates on the board by the time we called it quits, but we only had four gate tokens out of 6 needed if we closed all the gates (one of the three ways to win). We had only one elder sign on the board out of 6 needed to stop Ithaqua from general destruction and the end of the world (another way to win). Unfortunately Ithaqua's doom track only had 4 more tokens to go before his awakening. Anyhow Monday will see if we stop Ithaqua from awakening and if he does we will see if we manage to kill him in battle (the last way to victory, but the most unlikely).

A blurry shot of the between game
My thoughts on this game are mixed. I find I enjoy a game less if I am attempting (badly) to teach people how to play. Also its not great when the game seems to stop your character from achieving anything useful. However the theme really stands out and certainly makes for a fun night of gaming. I decided that I would get the expansion Dunwich Horror for the game. After researching some of the expansion this one seemed to fix one of the key problems, going insane or getting KOed in Arkham by nifty injury cards. Instead of loosing half your hard earned stuff you can take a permanent injury. Not ideal however it certainly beats the alternative. It also adds a bunch of cool stuff to stop the mid game slow down namely the Dunwich Horror. Anyhow I am sure after a few more games I will be able to give some more concrete thoughts on this game.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Jack the Ripper and some Gratuitous Breasts

I feel like, in painting the Requiem miniatures, I have developed my painting skills somewhat.  In particular, I have improved on painting white, which has always been a problem for me (see perambulator boots guy).  Black has been the other difficulty.  Getting the highlights right using the right shade of grey has always been a pain.  For that reason Jack the Ripper caused me some consternation and I stared at him for some time thinking about how to deal with all the black.  In the end I think I have made some real progress on the black front, in particular by darkening up the grey mid tone highlight and block painting more than I usually would.  Here he is:

In here comes Sherlock to take him down:

And I nearly forgot about the gratuitous breast shot - which is included solely as a pastiche / homage to all those blogs which use such titles to gain hits:

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