Sunday, 24 November 2019

Sedition Wars Troopers - An Experiment With Contrast Paint

Ages ago, I bought a game called Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster. It was made by Studio McVey and was a bit like the old Advanced Space Crusade, in that each side had about twenty miniatures and fought a battle on a map with squares. Unfortunately, the rules were so complex and badly explained that it was nearly unplayable. The models were pretty decent, though.

I thought I'd have a try at painting a batch of the good guys (basically, humans in space armour) with GW's contrast paints. The main reason for this is that the models can be largely one colour and have plenty of bumps and creases in their outfits where the contrast paint could "catch". I used Black Templar, which is the standard black colour, over a simple white undercoat. I painted ten models.

The contrast paint works rather well on the bumpy armour, although the end result isn't black really as much as a dark green-grey. It reminds me of the Alien's skin. I added some colour with the visors (which have come out a bit too luridly blue for my tastes), red shoulder pads and a stripe of orange on each gun, presumably to indicate glowing power levels of some kind. The orange was also done with contrast paint over white, and I think it works well.

The contrast paint isn't perfect by a long way, and does create slightly odd shading in some places. But it looks decent, especially given the length of time it took to do. I think these guys will work well as henchmen and enforcers for some kind of cyberpunk corporation.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Cross-Town Arms Traffick - A Game of Hardwired

Things had gone moderately well this night. On the plus side, the team had stolen a disk of vital data from a heavily-guarded corporate lab. On the minus side, they'd driven into a bollard on the way out. Their ute was bust, and the crew now faced the city on foot.

"Yeah, mate, it's not going to be cheap to fix this."

If they were going to escape, they'd need a ride. And right now, the only working vehicle was the large yellow lorry on the far side of the town, whose hazard stripes and interesting odour suggested that it was some kind of dustcart. Time to get moving.

In the first turn, the heroes advanced into the town. Everything seemed quiet but, as they entered, a band of armed scientists burst onto the scene, furious about the loss of their data.

"We're not just mad scientists, we're bloody furious scientists."

In the next round, the team noticed the vengeful scientists approaching, and hurried through the streets, using the massive air purifier in the centre and the nearby walkways for cover. Three more scientists arrived, intent on investigating the effects of gunfire on the team, and three genestealer cultists showed up at the rear of the board, sensing that something was going on which might involve snarling and hitting.

Suddenly, mayhem broke out! Seeing the three angry scholars readying their weapons, Gary Grey-Hair lobbed a grenade at them. The explosion killed two of the mad scientists, and Gary quickly used his Ronin skills to pick off the third with his rifle. But the crew's triumph was short-lived. Four long-coated agents stepped over the bodies of the slain, hefting powerful machine guns. The Syndicate had arrived!

Turn four was upon us. The team rushed forward and Gary Grey-Hair went berserk. Together with Yves Yellow-Hair, he stormed into the local market, past a recruiting booth where the Church of Xenology had set up shop. Throwing his second, and final, grenade, he took out three more thugs. Not content with this rampage, Gary shot a fourth.

"Solve this for X, science-bitches!"

The survivors hit the deck and returned fire. In moments, both Gary and Yves were hit, the bullets slamming through their armour. Rose Red-Hair dashed forward to assist, but was caught in the crossfire and wounded too. Now each of Rose, Gary and Yves only had two dice to roll each turn instead of three, making them significantly weaker. At least their ride was in sight - but Billie Blue-Hair lagged dangerously behind.

Turn five began with the squad making a final desperate sprint for the lorry. Yves, Rose and Gary reached the truck and dived into the armoured cab, safe from harm. But Billie was out of range. She'd never make it in time. Desperately, she threw herself over the bar of the local hostelry and took cover as the shells rained down.

And rain down they did. The Syndicate's finest (or worst) did their utmost to kill Billie, firing off twelve shots. Several got through the cover, and one or two penetrated Billie's armour but, thanks to her Ronin abilities, she was able to avoid taking any damage. Phew!


Enemies were closing in from all sides now: serious troopers against whom the crew wouldn't have a chance. Billie leaped out of cover and dashed to the lorry. Scrambling on board, the team zoomed off (gradually) in their new ride. What they lacked in glamour they made up for in non-deadness!

They had escaped. The team stopped their vehicle to pose for a celebratory picture.

Ready to take out the trash.


So, that was my first game of Hardwired. I really played it to get the hang of the system and, frankly, I think it's pretty good. For a six-turn game using fairly basic rules, it flowed smoothly and had plenty of excitement.

The system is geared to making each turn harder than the last, and it does it well. To begin with, I thought it would be a doddle, but the arrival of the tougher minions in Turn Three, who not only can do two actions per turn but do them better than the previous wave, is a real notching-up of difficulty. Similarly, the wounds system is very effective in representing damage: if you take one wound, you lose your d10. Two wounds and you lost your d8. Your troops degrade in quality pretty quickly.

There were several points where I wondered how all the rules meshed together. I couldn't work out what the different sorts of grenade did, so I just treated it as a standard attack. Overall, though, I think it flows very smoothly and feel surprisingly convincing, despite the lack of complex rules (or maybe because of it).

I don't know how much replayability you'd get from Hardwired, especially given that the increasing waves of villains will make the opposition feel a bit samey no matter how you mix the game up. However, it is fun and provides for some quick, exciting play. It would be interesting to see how some of the more exotic elements, such as psychics and drones, affect the basic game.

Overall, it's a decent product. The rulebook is slightly rough and ready, and the rules are perhaps a little on the basic side, but that's to be expected. I think it was well worth the money I spent and I'd recommend it to anyone else looking for a fast solo game.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Team For Hardwired

So, the books for Perilous Dark and Hardwired have arrived. Perilous Dark looks more complex, so it makes sense to start with Hardwired. To play Hardwired, you need a small group of skilled operatives, who'll be facing off against a horde of minions. It's a dirty job, and it's going to need experts. Let's have a look at my crew of stone-cold killers, each of whom is as ruthless as a ninja whose just been dumped by his girlfriend. Who was called Ruth.

Anyone remember this?

Rose Red-Hair (these are code names, obviously, else it would be silly) is a Razor, ie a close combat specialist. This is inevitable in cyberpunk: after all, what does modern technology matter when you've got a fancy wetsuit and a samurai sword?

Gary Grey-Hair is a Ronin, the sort of fuddy old traditionalist who thinks that gunfights are won with guns. Oh well, each to his own. His cautious approach and use of ranged weaponry has saved him many times. The question is, what about this time?

Billie Blue-Hair is another Ronin. She's a calm, calculating mercenary, as cold as a dead penguin, and is the most dangerous person to wear goggles with a poncho since the Man With No Name went swimming.

Finally, we've got a man with yellow hair. Damn, what name alliterates with "yellow"? Yves! But that's pronounced "Eaves". Eaves Yellow-Hair doesn't work. I know - we'll use the French version. Good thinking, Toby!

So, Yves Cheveaux-Jaunes is the fourth member of the crew. He's a Sawbones, which is a Medic for you old types stuck in the 2090s. His main skill comes from being to enhance the others - and hopefully stick them together once they've been shot full of holes. He also has a spanner and a blanket.


So, that's my crew of subultimate badasses. Let's talk briefly - very briefly - about the game mechanic. Every turn, a model can do three things (you get a standard move for free). To do a thing, you need to roll 4 or more. The twist is that you get three dice - a d.6, a d.8 and a d.10 - and can only allocate one dice to each roll. In other words, you need to decide which activity you want to succeed the most.

The different character types are very similar, but each has a different specialty. The specialty allows the model a re-roll in that area. So, a Razor (the close combat chap) gets a re-roll when fighting up close. The Ronin (the marksman) gets a re-roll when shooting. And so on.

The enemy come in waves, depending on how far through the game we are. To begin with, they're pretty feeble, but as it goes on, tougher and tougher reinforcements arrive. So the plan is to get in, get out and hopefully not get killed. Quickly.

It sounds simple. It won't be.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

An Orc, A Troll, And Some Random Musings On This Blog

After the rather disgusting Chaos Spawn, I thought I'd paint something "nice": namely a war machine, an orc and a troll.

The orc is a very old metal orc who was in a battered state when I got him, missing his left arm and his weapon. I suspect that he originally was a bowman, but I made him a spear out of a paper clip covered in green stuff, and gave him a Frostgrave left arm with an ancient plastic shield. I really like these shields: the moon and the evil sun designs feel like classic Warhammer to me. 

Like the nude orc that I made for the chaos warband, there's not a lot of detail on this model for the brush to "catch", especially on the face. Still, he was pleasant to make and the shield was really nice to paint.

This is an old stone troll, from the "red period" of the early 1990s. I really like the design of Warhammer's trolls: they look menacing but also dopey and slightly comical. I went with a pretty standard colour scheme. I like using purple washes on models like this: it gives the impression of flesh rather than just rock. Likewise, I mixed a bit of pink into the highlights to suggest living skin, but I doubt it's very visible in this picture.

The war machine is a plastic Mantic trebuchet, originally made for their undead army. It had that cartoony look that's common to a lot of Mantic's stuff, which I don't really like. The only converting I did was to cut away all the skulls and spikes, and to put three shields on the cross-piece to cover up the hacking. The yellow-and-black quartered design has become quite common on my more heroic Frostgrave models: maybe it's the heraldry of the local lord.


Anyway, that's enough of that for now. I started this blog to chart my efforts to get better at painting, and to improve. I think, overall, I've done so: I'm very pleased with some of the models that I've made, and I think that the cyberpunk eldar, the ork commandos and some of the Frostgrave people are some of the best miniatures I've ever converted and painted.

However, it might be time to take stock a bit. I don't think I'm improving much as a painter now: I suspect that I've got as good as I can do, and that things like complex freehand will always be beyond me. Likewise, I'm not inclined to splash out for tools like airbrushes that I doubt I'll use all that often, or all that well. So I might have plateaued somewhat.

That feeling might just be because I've been feeling a bit down, recently, and I'm certainly not inclined to throw in the towel. This blog gets very few hits at all, but it's been fun to do. I have ended up with a lot of nice miniatures, some of which have even seen the light of day on the battlefield.

However, a lot of them haven't. So, I've ordered two sets of solo rules: Perilous Dark for Frostgrave, and Hardwired, a set of rather odd-looking skirmish cyberpunk rules. Frostgrave is reliably good, and I've got no idea how Hardwired will work out, but it looks interesting. So we'll see how it pans out. Watch this space.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

"Fun" with Chaos Spawn

Weird and pissed off.

From time immemorial (ie about 1988), chaos spawn have been an important part of the Warhammer Chaos army, not least because they're a good way of using up all the bits you've got left over from other projects. A while back, I converted one of the strange creatures from the Killteam Rogue Trader box, and that reminded me of some old spawn conversions that I'd done a while ago, and which were gathering dust in a cardboard box when they could be raising hell on the battlefield.

I dug the conversions out, re-based them, and gave them a new coat of paint on the flesh. I more-or-less followed a tutorial that I found here: HERE. It's probably not the most exact method, but it produces a pleasingly disgusting, but not too rotten, effect. Here are the re-worked spawn.

It's rather hard to explain what they are, but there are a lot of tyranid bits in there, along with some skaven parts. The overall effect is... lovely.

Here is a family photo.

Anyway, I actually find them quite gross to look at, so the tutorial obviously worked. I think I'll paint something cartoony and nice next: a knight, maybe, or a wizard. The spawn are going back in their box. Ugh.