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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Painting at Last

   I have spent a good bit of time over the past week getting some Marines painted, finally! I managed to knock out six command stands - basically all the infantry and support command for the entire army I am planning to be able to field. I also have most (7/9) of a rifle platoon (one of two) and the whole 81mm mortar support platoon painted. Based. Clear coated. Done.

   Boy, does that feel good. And I have the heavy machinegun platoon and the rest of the rifle platoon primed already... maybe by next week I can say I have finished three platoons of the USMC project.

81mm Mortar Platoon

BAR Squad

More BAR squads

   All the figures so far are Peter Pig. I do have a few pieces of Battlefront, mainly the vehicles. Of those, only the Corsair is painted and done. I've had troubles with the LVT (4) transports - even after they sent me replacement hulls. The tracks are messed up, right in the front over the drive sprockets. I may just have to grit my teeth and bear it. I also used some of a box set of Honeys that were originally slated for my 8th Army and painted a pair of them in dark green. Once I apply a few decals, then I will have two M3 Stuarts to bolster my troops. Even though it only has a 37mm gun, compared to Japanese armour, the M3 Stuart is a killer. Plus, you get that lovely canister round. Just the thing for breaking up a banzai charge.

   I will be buying some Battlefront infantry eventually. I need the assault engineer section, some AT guns, the war dogs (!), and a few other bits and bobs. Plus, I want to put together a SeaBee platoon, complete with their D7 armoured bulldozer, partly in tribute to my good buddy Jim, a retired SeaBee Senior Chief.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Red Sphinx

   Reading The Red Sphinx, by Alexandre Dumas. Yes, the fellow who penned such classics of adventure as The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. It's a new book, sort of, in that while most of it was written by Dumas in the 19th century, he never finished it. He didn't finish it because he had already written the ending in a short story called The Dove. The Red Sphinx is the tale that ties together The Three Musketeers and The Dove, a tale about Comte du Moret and Cardinal Richelieu. Naturally, I am reading a translation from the original French, since I don't really parle francais. Except for food, but I digress.

   I'm about 200 pages in, and I am getting bored. I'm shocked by that, because I truly loved Dumas's other works, and read them in unabridged form. But this one seems to be dragging terribly so far. To many sidebar explanations of the situation in Europe at the time, and explanations of how everyone is related to everyone else, and reflective reminders of things that have happened before written in the first person in the author's voice as narrator. I don't recall that being a major part of the other stories, but it has been a good while since I read the previous works.

   Honestly, I am about ready to ditch it and open one of the books I bought myself after Christmas, part of the Eric Flint 163x series.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Zombicide Black Plague: First Game

   One of the things I received for Christmas this year was a copy of Zombicide Black Plague, the fantasy/medieval version of the hit boardgame Zombicide. I'd played it once before, last May I think it was, and had enjoyed it a lot, so it went on the list for this year.

   Today we broke it out and played for the first time. The players were myself, my son Dane, his girlfriend Elysia, my friend Zach, and his son. Setup was pretty quick. I ran through the rules with everyone (it took about ten minutes to explain the basics to everyone), and then we set off on the Tutorial Quest.

Not us playing - but it is the tutorial quest

   It took a bit longer than anticipated - about an hour, as opposed to the projected 45 minutes - but we made it through the quest, all hale and whole. We moved on to the first 'real' quest (there are ten in the rules). 

The 'dashboard' - one of the things I like about Black Plague

   We had two objectives, either of which would win the game for us: activate all the objectives, thus finding the laboratory, or killing one of each Necromancer and Abomination. We started with the objectives. Things started off well for us in the quest to destroy the laboratory of the foul Necromancer. We cleared a couple of objectives, and then... Dane (playing Ann the Battle Nun) went off by himself and pulled an objective - the laboratory! Which caused a Necromancer to spawn there. And his zombie protectors. Down went Ann. The Necromancer then proceeded to attempt to escape from the board, as they are supposed to do.

   Luckily, we had one player running two characters, so we just put that character (Samson) under Dane's control. Lesson learned, we did our best to stay in a fairly tight group, especially when an Abomination spawned. In our tight group, we ran away from it, because we had nothing that could stop such a terrible monster. At least not until we found a vial of Dragon Bile! Luckily, we moved faster than the Abomination, so we kept out ahead of it. In the meantime, the wizard, played by Elysia, cut down a Necromancer, meeting one half of our objective. Change of plan! Now we wanted to find that Dragon Bile, kill the Abomination, and win!

   Two turns later, we found some. I already had a torch to light the stuff, so off we went, through the subterranean vault to get near the monster. Elysia gave me the Bile, and we lured the Abomination closer. Just as it got close, I threw the bile and touched it off with the flaming brand in my hand! With a roar, the intense flames flashed up, instantly burning the Abomination to ash, and ending the game.

   At this point we called it a day. The game is lots of fun, and I have already been given three expansions to it, including the Deadeye Walkers (zombie archers!) and two of the Guest Star packs of heroes (Joven Nerd and Paolo Somethingorother). Maybe we will try to work some of those into the next Quest.

More Terrain on the Way...

   All of this talk about terrain has me being naughty and spending hard earned money on toys. I just placed an order with Noble Knight for a bunch of 15mm scale JR Miniatures cobblestone roads, plus some dirt roads (same scale), plus a couple of river fords, one in each 6mm and 15mm scale.

   I also ordered some more 15mm railroad tracks from Amazon, the Battlefield in a Box (BFiB) Train Tracks Expansion set. It should arrive tomorrow. This gives me curves, switches, and ends. I'll fiddle with these and see if I still need another set of the straights. I think I might need one more.

   Finally, I ordered the 15mm Town Church from MBA. I was torn on this one, I maybe should have gotten the Caen Church from Battlefront/GF9's Battlefield in a Box series... I went with the MBA for two reasons: it was on sale and it comes apart to make a ruin.

MBA's Town Church

BFiB Caen Church

   You will all note, I hope, that every bit of this terrain is pre-painted and ready to use right out of the box. That helps me to feel better about the purchases, you see, as they are FAR more likely to see actual game table usage. Plus, they can be used for both VSF and WWII gaming. The rivers and roads, of course, could also be for Spanish Civil War, or Sci-Fi, or virtually anything else.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Upgrading Mars...

  A few months ago I decided that I wanted to work on improving the appearance of my tables when I get to play games. I also decided that I didn't have a lot of time to spend on scratch-building stuff, so I would focus on ready-made, and preferably pre-painted.

   At Christmas a couple of things I did obtain that are noteworthy for gaming was some new terrain. GF9 finally re-released their popular Badlands series of terrain, and I got two boxes for Christmas: the Plateau and the Tors. These will fit nicely in as Martian desert terrain, I think, and the best part is they are ready out of the box. I also ordered the Badlands Bluff a few days ago from Amazon to help fill in space. Of course, I can probably also use these as desert rocks for WWII gaming as well.

   Back in October I attended the BROADSIDES! Gaming convention held aboard the Battleship TEXAS near my home. One of the vendors there carried Cigar Box Battle Mats, which I already had purchased one of at Historicon a while back. I really like these mats. I decided I wanted to upgrade my Martian terrain this year, so I bought one of the Red Planet 6'x4' cloths. I like it a lot, though I haven't used it in a game yet. I also have one each of their Grasslands and Desert cloths.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Top Ten Reasons for Not Blogging

Without further ado, and in no particular order...

10. Laziness

  Sometimes, you just don't feel like doing anything even remotely productive. So instead you flop on the couch and binge watch Blacklist or something.

9. Work

    All of us have those times when we are so busy with our work that, when we have time away, we spend it on things other than our hobbies. This one's been getting me a lot, relating to #5, below.

8. Family

  If you're lucky enough to have one (like me - mine is awesome!), you have to spend time with them. Sitting in front of a computer while they do other things around the house doesn't count.

7. Broken Camera

  This one is actually pretty weak these days. I know my phone's camera isn't great, but it does function and I have it with me almost all the time. And honestly, with my photographic skills, it's not a big difference between the camera and the phone.

6. No Internet Access

  Another weak excuse. In any First or Second World country, you just aren't trying (see "Laziness", above) or it means you are in the Back of Beyond. "What if I can't afford it?" Pffft. That's what work and public libraries are for.

5. No Hobby Time

   This is often a spillover from work, family, etc. But it could be a case of temporary hobby burnout, too. You haven't really done much related to the hobby about which you blog (gaming, in this case). Thus, you have nothing to really blog about. This is part of my problem right now. I have played in one game since October, and haven't picked up a brush since then, either. Just too busy to devote the time.

4. Illness

   Okay, this one's legit. If you or a loved one have been ill, from a nasty cold like I just had to hospitalisation for really serious illnesses, that's a good excuse to not merrily plop every random hobby thought onto the internet. You just might be a bit occupied with more important matters.

3. Too Much Hobby Time

   This is the flipside of 'not enough time.' In this case, you are spending all your available free time on your hobby interests themselves, and are selfishly refusing to share with the rest of the world. You rotten selfish bastard. Thankfully rare.

2. Vacation

  Like many of the other reasons, this is a lack of time issue, combined with (often enough) a lack of access issue. We go on cruises a lot. Internet access is available but expensive and super slow. Plus, I'm busy enjoying myself and stuff. Three months of 'vacation' doesn't count, though...

1. Blogger Burnout

   This happens fairly often, too. You just don't feel like blogging about stuff. You got bored with sharing it to an uncaring world. No one's paying any attention to it anyway. No one comments, your page views are low, and it all seems so pointless... Black spiraling pit of depression...