Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pulp Alley AAR: Butch Sullivan and the Lost Idol

The second of our Pulp Alley trial games from last month, once again dual posted with Gharak's blog. Once again, words by Gharak, photos by me.

First, a belated group shot of the our fine French adventurers.

From left to right:
-Gustav, Andriy's dog. Diminutive, but known to bite.
-Veronique Dujardin, rising star of the Societe
-Andriy Shukhevych, Ukranian Exile and sidekick to Captain LeFranc
-Expedition Leader, Captain Jermone LeFranc, once of the Foreign Legion,
-Old Gerard Pelissier, once the LeFranc family gardener, now accompanying his master on more dangerous travels.
-Joseph Arnaud, hunter from the forests of Morvan
-Lastly, occasional member of the group Marie

Butch Sullivan and the Lost Idol

Our fortune hunters find themselves in French Indo-china, Butch and his party have been hired by a local elder to recover a ceremonial statue from deep in the jungle. After many days hacking through the bush, Butch and co are nearing the resting place for the revered idol. Two local guides with Butch have followed a trail of old clues to this point, they however have reported of another group of foreigners in the area who appear to be looking for the same statue.

Captain Jerome LeFranc has been summoned by the local regional Governor to ensure that the dastardly Americans do not remove the idol from the country.

Our heroes must follow a train of clues to discover the statue, tracks in the ground, the stolen baggage and there is rumour missing hostages, whose knowledge could be invaluable.

Butch and his crew make the first move, splitting their group Butch heads off with Indiana, whilst Lauren and Kazim follow the two local scouts.

Meanwhile the French group move up, heading towards the missing hostage.

Andriy struggles through the thick jungle leading the pack but the effort seems too much and he becomes tangled in vines, injuring himself as he pushes through the think and perilous jungle. 

But his struggle was not in vain as he stumbles into one of the hostages, who appears to have knowledge of some papers which were stolen in the raid against the baggage train, the chest of documents included several cryptic papers on the legends of the area.

Dashing forwards, Jerome investigates the lost baggage train, whose mules are not impressed with the disturbance and lash out. The French captain dodges the flailing hooves as he moves to calm the beasts. Stashed in the equipment is a journal detailing an ivory skull carved with texts describing the now abandoned temple where the Statue was housed. Perhaps it may also detail its fate.

Before he can read further, Kazim rushes Jerome, knives drawn. He almost takes a tumble but manages to regain his footing before going toe to toe with the ex-Foreign Legionnaire.

Not so far away the Andriy's less than fearless hound scampers away, daunted by the size and power of Indiana.

In the centre of the old temple complex one of the local guides let's loose a hail of arrows and wounds old Gerard.

Lauren moves up to a vantage point to help out but once again appears to be out of ammo.
Click, click (its becoming a theme for sharpshooter Lauren Stone...)

Gustav charges towards the local to avenge his fallen comrade, whilst in the background Jerome and Kazim continue to trade blows.

Gustav might hve more luck with the puny archer

Andriy investigates the loosely concealed chest, triggering a trap. His reflexes fail him and darts shoot out, lacerating his hands and face. Unperturbed, he opens the chest and draws out the Ivory Skull, reading the ancient inscription. Andriy has discovered the whereabouts of the missing statue and realises he needs to retrace his steps to locate it.
Fancy that, a clue hidden at skull mountain (it is Pulp, after all!)

The race is on to get to the giant statue first, but the Captain sprints ahead of Butch and Lauren to secure the prize and Butch's crew slink off. The Governor will be pleased and Jerome hopes the reward will cover the trouble.
Endgame as our heroes converge on the ever so well hidden statue

All in all, another fun game of Pulp Alley, the cards drive the scenario and to an extent, the characters (Lauren's ever-empty pistols). The scenario didn't quite work as I was able to fiddle the trail by putting the final clue behind my characters, hugely increasing my chance of getting it. Using the recommended 3' by 3' board rather than 2' by 4' would help avoid that and it didn't really detract from the fun.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

And now for something slightly different

After the loveliness, some grislyness.

I previously used tiny dice to mark combat damage, which did the job but weren't very evocative so knocked up these wound markers, inspired by Anatoli and Curt's efforts. Simply 22mm round clear plastic counters from em4 with your choice of red blood. I tried out Tamiya clear red, which is very shiny, opaque and bright, but gives a good icky colour if you add some chestnut or black ink. I mixed up a few different colours in layers.

After initial tries, I realised that both less is more and more is more: they look much better with less coverage on the counter, but to get the best effect I blobbed the paint on thickly, rather than brushing it carefully - the bristles left streaks due to the thickness of the paint.

They are quite shiny, but that doesn't seem to have come out in the photo.

On an entirely unrelated note, Ian at The Blog With No Name is having a series of giveaways at the moment, well worth swinging by.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Closing the Challenge: the Lady in White

To round out my Challenge, I wanted to make a final stab at retaining the Sarah's Choice award. When I saw this miniature, I was a little struck by the ethereal grace of her. I thought she'd look great alone on a cliff edge, looking out. Perhaps a sailor's wife, waiting for his return, quietly looking out over crashing waves for sails on the horizon, with the breeze catching her hair. Or perhaps she is a ghostly spirit of a long-forgotten memory, a goddess or elven queen.

There's only so much space on a 30mm base, I wasn't up for making cliffs and crashing waves. But I thought I'd position her offset slightly from the usual position on the base, which I think draws out her loneliness a little. A simple paint job to bring out the simplicity of the sculpt, in my usual clean style. I tried a new recipe for the blonde hair and am rather pleased with it. She was a pain to photograph though, the flash often makes the dress look harshly pale.

This is about the fourth round of photographing her - every time I spotted niggles that I had to return to the painting table to put right. While I felt she deserved me doing her eyes, I rarely do them for a reason and this shows why. Sadly, that's the best I could manage. 

Still, she is a lovely miniature and was a joy to paint. Hasslefree Miniatures. 

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Analogue Hobbies Challenge: Coming to a Close

With a sigh of relief, the Painting Ronin can lay aside their brushes. Three months of some quite amazing work in the name of points, sharing, camaraderie and prizes.

First up, my deepest appreciation for our host and guide, Curt. To make so much time to run this competition is a gesture of great kindness, it truly must have been a Herculean effort. But rest assured, it is deeply appreciated by me, the rest of the Ronin and the rest of our hobby blogosphere who could watch the fun unfold. Curt, I salute you as the jolly nice chap that you are. Hopefully, 50-odd colourful (and greyscale) Samurai will be reward enough, in the end.

On my performance, I managed a miserable 365 points, well below my 500 last year and 550 target. I just ran out of steam in the end and was too distracted by othre commitments. But I'm pleased with what I did finish. My focus was on Pulp and WWII, with a smattering of other genres . My entries over the past month are below. First up, a second batch of Artizan Greatcoated Germans. While they need a little grubbying up, I'm pleased with how they came out, a few lessons learned from the first batch.

Just the one camo smock in an autumnal scheme

The whole bunch together

Next, a few French Foreign Legion in khaki, to make an appearance in a North African Pulp games. Artizan Designs once again, I think these were a 'useful somday' bargain bin or eBay find.

A pair of ladies, one Pulp adventurer from Hasslefree and one armed Victorian lady from Mutineer. I actually had three ladies on my final entry, The third was the one I was most pleased with, but painting her went right to the wire so I will add a couple of finishing touches before posting her up here.

So now the dust has settled, there is voting and prizegiving to be done. One prize is awarded for the 'People's Choice', so do head on over to Analogue Hobbies to vote on your favourite entry.

Finally, a quick shout out for another Easter giveaway at Sippin' on Paint Water - head over there if you want a chance at some mysterious goodies!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Pulp Alley AAR: The Tomb of Ahmet Ra

Last month, Gharak and I managed a few test games of the recently released Pulp ruleset 'Pulp Alley'. We both threw together leagues and raided Gharak's extensive terrain collection, with limited prep time. Rather than using the Professor and his chums (who are still mid-story, last played using .45 Adventure), I used my second league: the 'Societe Archaelogique'. Led by Jerome Lefranc, who previously served with the French Foreign Legion and is now an expedition leader for the Societe, with his Hungarian sidekick Andriy Shukhevych. They were joined by the beautiful, young and enthusiastic Veronique Dujardin and mooks Gerard and Joseph. Rounding out the group is Gustav, Andriy's diminutive but unexpectedly ferocious dog.

They were opposed by Butch Sullivan's League of Adventurers, featuring the brave, talented and ever ready Butch Sullivan, his partner in crime Lauren Stone and regular adventuring buddies, Kazim of the Umbaku tribe, Marcus, Akhmed the eagle-eyed and Indiana the dog.
Our first game took our two groups of adventurers to Egypt, to locate the lost treasure of Ahmet Ra. Butch Sullivan's League of Adventurers have had a tip off from an anonymous caller as to the whereabouts of an undiscovered and unplundered tomb entrance. 

The major plot point for this scenario was the Colossal Tomb of Ahmet Ra, and the minor plot points were; Ceremonial Hieroglyphs, Disassembled Survey Equipment, The Jeweled Orb and Smuggled Explosives.

Writeup by Gharak (lightly edited by me, also available on his blog), photos by me.
Andriy and Joseph move up towards one of the the Orb, Akhmed lives up to his name and takes a shot at Joseph, wounding the Frenchman. Looks like he may be down for a while.

Moving up through a perilous area of old crumbling pillars, Lauren deftly dodges out of the way of some falling masonry and makes it through safely.

Andriy reaches out to grab there sacred Orb, a snake slithers out from among the trinkets and rears up to strike. In a show of reactions and strength, Andriy strangles the beast with his bare hands. Collecting the orb he stashes it safely and takes cover behind the plinth.

Butch make his move forward and stumbles on something buried beneath the sands, kicking the dirt aside he uncovered a discarded crate, the markings on the sides suggesting that the contents are explosive. Likely to come in useful, with a swift boot Butch smashes through the lid and retrieves several sticks of dynamite. Meanwhile, Lefranc aims round the crates he was taking cover behind and downs Kazim with a single shot as he makes his way around the sphinx.

Veronique makes her way over to the crates and reassembles the surveying equipment and she soon moves away back to cover.

Gustav makes a brave attack on Indiana but the larger dog clearly has the advantage and comes off better.

Lauren edges along the side of the Sphinx and taking aim she squeezes off a shot against Veronique, with an heart-sinking click Lauren realises that her pistols are out of ammo and the chance is wasted. Nearby an enraged Indiana rushes Gerard and the two engage in a deadly melee.

ReEloading, Lauren moves up to provide cover but Andriy quickly closes the gap and charges,  but the nimble adventuress deftly breaks away from his attack.

Butch seizes his chance and makes a dash for the tomb entrance, lighting the dynamite he steps out of the way and a mighty explosion destroys the seal and grants entry to the treasure inside.

Butch and his team recover the lost treasure of Ibis from the tomb of Ahmet Ra.

Closing Thoughts

I really enjoyed Pulp Alley. It is quite a simple ruleset, using the dice type and number of dice rolled to pass a test to differentiate between different characters. The standard role is to get multiple successes of a 4+ and the dice range from D6 to D10. Combat is done via 'dice-matching', giving one player the advantage of choosnig how to match them up. It has an asymetric turn order, with the initiative sitting with one player, who can choose which player activates a model next. Initiative is passed when wounds are incured or plot points succeeded, which reminded me a bit of a reverse 'turnover' in Blood Bowl, on success rather than failure.

Also, each player has a hand of cards (like 'Stay Down' in the first picture) which serve as both random events and extra challenges that you can play as 'perils' at certain points. Leaders and sidekicks are notably better than lower-grade characters, so you need to concentrate attacks on leaders to wear down their defences and do damage.

It is a better ruleset for two players than .45 Adventure and no need for an umpire. This meant both Gharak and I can run competing Leagues, saving Gharak from his usual role of 'playing the scenario'. The scenario generation is quite nifty, created by a series of rolls on tables to generate the 'plot points'. That serves as an outline from which Gharak and I work out the whys and wherefores. Some of the tables are a bit odd (covering more science and weird than the Indy Jones-type adventuring we do), but we were happy to re-roll a couple of results to get something more suitbale and could easily re-jig the tables themselves to suit our purposes.

Also worth mentioning the great presentation of the ruleset, it has an really neat 'Pulpy' style and is chock full of inspiring sketches. All in all, a really fun ruleset and most recommended. Its ease of play and focus on fun and great scenario generation means it will become our Pulp ruleset of choice. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Challenge Entries; The Final Straight

Another motley collection of Challenge Entries for you. First up, two Willys jeeps from West Wind. The will serve as transport for my commandos or objectives for WWII skirmish games. I based them on plastic bases leftover from Perry boxes, as they are a bit small. The bases raise them up a bit and stop you putting troops too close, hopefully making them look like they scale better.

Next up, my entry fee, Ronin #33, a particularly colourful samurai. I tried a new yellow recipe around Vallejo Flat Yellow (in preparation for the stalled Dragoons project). It came out really well but is very unforgiving of mistakes. Not ideal when doing a freehand design! But he came out well and I hope he has good service with Curt's other Ronin.

Last up, some artillery support for my Napoleonic Spanish. I was pleased with how the gun came out, but the gunners are a bit chunky.

Apologies that I've not posted much up recently, I've not had much time to blog as well as paint and even the painting is going pretty slowly. I'm on to the final straight of Curt's challenge, which finishes in just over two weeks. I'm just over halfway to my points target, which I'm almost certain to miss. I also have a few AARs for Pulp Alley to post from a couple of weeks back.

I also recently went to the Cavalier show in Tonbridge, with Samulus keeping me company. Cavalier is a small show but a nice primer for the year. I didn't buy much, just a few bits and pieces as well as the vehicles expansion for Operation Squad (it was reasonably priced!). I think I need a few more games before I'm ready to use them though. Seeing some other bloggers' pics of the show, I think I missed a whole room of it somehow!

One final note: Dux Homonculorum is running a great giveaway, worth swinging by.