Saturday, September 8, 2018

Sinbad-Ray Harryhausen inspired miniature paint jobs

For those who were not alive in the 1970s, allow me to explain what TV was like for science-fiction fans..

It was a desert.. a wasteland.. hardly anything to be honest..

TV back then was just a couple of analog channels, vulnerable to thunderstorms, with a lot of them showing black and white stuff from the 1950s and 60s. There were not many channels to be honest, and Sci-fi shows, when they were on, were few and far between. The mid-70s had kiddie sci-fi shows like Isis, or quasi-campy ones like the Six Million Dollar Man. The tail end of the 70s saw mostly campy stuff like Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica. It was only Star Trek that at least attempted to be serious..  Sci-fi movies were mostly Godzilla schlock and those journey to the center of the Earth types.

Even less can be said about fantasy.. I can't remember any classic fantasy TV shows in the 70s to be honest except perhaps that Lord of the Rings cartoon one with the memorable song "Where there's a whip, there's a way."  What little else there was came from the sword & sandals variety and the Ray Harryhausen movies. It was however those Ray Harryhausen ones that I still find memorable all these years later.

It was no stretch therefore that I got the miniature rules 7th Voyage: Wargaming In the World of Stop Motion Mythic Fantasy, which pay tribute to those Ray Harryhausen movies.

I have no idea how the rules will parody or honour stop animation if they do, but I'm willing to give it a shot.  However, I didn't have anything painted, so I got to rummage around and first start with the Sinbad- inspired ones, an old favourite character.

I manage to base some Arabian themed minis I had (mostly from Reaper), as well as a Ray Harryhausen clone of his cyclops, which was a perfect start.

I banged out six paint jobs from last night to today to tabletop-quality level which I am pleased with. It should be a good start to at least try out the 7th Voyage rules.


The cyclops is a dead ringer for the cyclops in one of the old stop animation movies.

so it was a pleasure to paint..

The Vizier of Morabia (Marabia)

In the Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Sinbad teams up with the Vizier of Marabia, who had his face burnt-off by the evil sorcerer Koura. For some reason, I still find that mask intriguing, and was pleased that there was a mini, the Vizier of Morabia that was a dead ringer for the character in the movie sold by Harwood Hobbies. I bought it up and got it recently.

I enjoyed painting this one the most today..

Sinbad Crew

I had 3 reapers that looked Arabian, so I elected them as Sinbad and crew..


and I had one guy that looked less like Sinbad's crew and more like cannon-fodder muscle for some bad guy.

so I painted him all clad up in a "uniform" of sorts. 

I still have more to do as I want to get a sculpt that looks like the evil wizard Koura (played by the Dr. Who actor Tom Baker)...

It will be great to find a Kali sculpture, but that would be wishing too much..

Anyways, today was a good start and I'm on on the way to try out the rules soon. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018

The chaotic moving parts needed to win in Black Orchestra makes it very enjoyable

My friend Craig and I are big WW 2 and Nazi Germany buffs since we were kids. We both read all of the Bernie Gunther books since the Eighties, a series of books about a private eye in Nazi Germany. We are thus both familiar with the apparatus of how surveillance worked with the overlapping jurisdictions between the Gestapo, the SD, and Kripo (criminal police) under the Reich's "crown prince of terror" (Reinhard Heydrich) and his RHSA (the Reich Main Security Office). It was no stretch therefore that I would buy Black Orchestra when it first came out.

The "Black Orchestra" in this context refers to the clique of disaffected monarchists, Christians, and traditional army officers who couldn't stomach that "Bohemian Corporal" running Germany into the ground and tried to kill him. They nearly did with the bomb plot in the summer of 1944 historically that is. The Black Orchestra was different than the Red Orchestra, who were communists and Stalinist operatives (and not featured in this game.)

But I digress.

My friend Craig was visiting from out of town this weekend, so my friend Jim and I along with Craig tried out two games of Black Orchestra, followed by a round of Master of Orion.

In Black Orchestra, you are one of the true historical conspirators and are given a dossier card.. In game one, Craig was the famous Admiral Canaris, head of Abwehr (military intelligence), Jim was the more famous Colonel von Stauffenburg and I was the mayor of Cologne.

On the surface, this game is a pick up and deliver game.. you run around occupied Europe getting bombs, poison, etc, and then be in the same city as Hitler to try a plot against him.

It sounds easy, but the game has a built in clock mechanism through these event cards so you have to hurry. Even more daunting, there is always the threat of being picked up by the Gestapo as well as  getting enough courage to try the assassination.

You only have two stats to manage, your motivation and Gestapo suspicion of you. Orchestra is aptly named in this game, as, like a musical instrument, timing and harmony is everything: you need to get your motivation from timid to at least committed to kill Hitler, and your suspicion to as low as possible.  The only problem is, both motivation and suspicion constantly fluctuate chaotically as the game progresses. If for example, you're in Hitler's presence, your motivation goes down and you can't activate a plot below a certain level, even if you got everything ready.

Also, as the war progresses, Hitler's popularity with the military goes up and down. The more the military is behind him, the more "successes" are needed to kill him.

In a standard game, you need just 3 successes to start with, but it can easily go up to 7 depending on events. So, you may have the motivation, the equipment, and be in the same location as Hitler, but can't generate seven successes as you don't have enough dice to even try it.

Or in another situation, you may be ready with everything in place, and Hitler's standing with the military is at an all time low, but then you get suddenly arrested by the Gestapo just as you're about to try to do it.

Or you're ready and everything is in place, but Hitler is suddenly whisked away to another city.

In this game, arrest does not mean you're killed. You're basically in prison until one of the other players tries to bail you out at Gestapo HQ (Prinz Wilhemstrasse street I imagine), risking imprisonment themselves if they roll the wrong die.

Every turn in prison, you get questioned by the Gestapo.. You can try to roll to get out, or generally are forced to screw a fellow player as some of the options have them get rid of equipment or lower motivation and such in order for you to be released. You lose the game if all players are arrested at the same time.

Hitler and his deputies are always moving around and if you're in the same city as one of them, you get penalties. If you find yourself surprised when all of them visit the same city as you, then the penalties multiply.

The game requires some coordination and cooperation to try and win. It is hard to kill Hitler given all the chaotic moving parts needed to do so.

In game 1, just as the clock was running out, I tried to kill Hitler as I had all the prerequisites, and his military support was just 4. All I had to do was roll 4 successes, the target symbol, but I rolled just 3..

We lost in game 1 as we ran out of time, and documents were found incriminating all the players. It was piano wire and meat hooks I imagine afterward.

We pulled off a win at the last minute in game 2, but it was close, requiring a lot of coordination and help from each of us to do it.

All in all, a very enjoyable game. I love the theme, and it is in the best tradition of cooperative games. The game designer knows Nazi Germany well, so for us buffs, it's dripping with great theme as every card was a pleasure to read.

A big thumbs up!

Field Marshall Erwin von Witzleben to his judges in 1944

We finished the evening with a light card game, Master of Orion, which I discuss elsewhere. An enjoyable game as well.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Quick adds to my animal-themed Gaslands team

I recently created an animal-themed team for Gaslands (as discussed here)

but last weekend, in this large assembly of  a 25 cents Hot Wheels bin at a junk store, I spotted 3 animal shaped cars and bought them. At 25 cents each, you can't go wrong.

The truck looks like a rhinosaurus, the eagle or falcon car is nicely shaped, and the puma is not bad once you hide the driver's seat.

The bird one in particular I liked.

I first cut out the engine in front of the driver's seat in the puma car..

and mounted a sci-fi gun on it from bits my friend Jeff gave me recently.

For the falcon or eagle car, I drilled a hole and mounted a similarly looking sci-fi gun from the same bits box I got.

For the rhino truck, I just mounted a gun on top, which was straightforward.

Working at this scale is a lot easier than 25-28mm which I am used to..

I had a banter with my friend in a tongue-in-cheek text message about it.

Anyways, I quickly painted up the cars and are added to my animal themed Gaslands team. Most of the paintwork was done on the eagle car to hide the cheesy bright yellow.