Never a copper about when you need one…

Early March 2013. A friend emailed me to let me know about a new Kickstarter campaign that was being run by West Wind Productions. What is it with friends justifying their own purchases by getting someone else to buy in too?

Empire of the Dead was getting a new lease of life and would include lots of new factions and new rules. Of course I was not able to resist. I was however a little new to the whole Kickstarter thing and didn’t know what to expect. I bought in at a reasonable level and sat back to wait for the campaign to close and to get my product. The wait lasted until November of the same year. I learned later that this is a swift turn about for a Kickstarter, as another game I bought into, Heroes of Normandie, took a whole year to come through in the end.

I have to state here that both have been well worth the wait…

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To bide my time as I awaited the fulfilment of the campaign, a campaign that provided more extras than I could ever have expected, I picked up a few London bobbies and a town mob deal that provided me with more civilians than I would ever need. My trusty matt varnish again deposited a slightly frosty tone on the test models, to my dismay… I am still trying to find out what causes this on the odd few figures…

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I had chosen to invest in the West Wind Kickstarter for the chance to get my hands on a new Peeler faction known as, Supernatural Branch, including the boys from, Hell Division. These were a police force that sported all kinds of toys to deal with supernatural troublemakers. Net guns, Gatling guns and mechanical guard dogs being the best bits!

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By the time all the bits came through we had found a new passion in place of Empire of the Dead. These guys were, however, special enough to be painted up forthwith and a special game laid on in the cramped city in their honour.

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That cramped city was growing thanks to the VBCW range by Warbases. Post office, shop and pub were added along with their Flemish house. All work well with each other and I think that they fit the style I was searching for from the start. Posters add to the flavour and a few more items, to add to the imagery, would be seen on the table in time.

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Some of these guys friends have been seen recently on my painting table as not all were painted up first time round.

Next up, we discover Bolt Action!

A hunting we will go…

The Zendarians allowed me to get into the game swiftly and provided a good starting force. I had thought about starting a second faction but fancied a different style of play for my next force. I was also in a phase of painting again, with the troopers for the Zendarians coming out so well that I was confident that I could run up a new force in no time.

Where to start then? I knew I wanted a force that did not rely so heavily on its ranged combat this time. Our scenery was becoming more cramped and line of sight was not so easy to gain as our games progressed. A normal gentleman’s club was to similar to the Zendarians and vampires are not altogether my thing. It came down to a choice between Werewolves and Wulfen Jaeger (Werewolf hunters). My sensible head won over with my choice being made with versatility in mind. Werewolves can only be used as Werewolves but a small force of hunters could be used in a number of other games with just a little imagination.

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Hunting dogs feature strongly in the Wulfen Jaeger so were a must for me. A strong set of heroes and a small number of close range blunderbuss wielding troopers would soon follow.

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I actually enjoyed painting these more than any figures I can recall in the last few years. The sculpting is clean and the detail is clear enough for even my unsubtle, block painting, style. It did, however, leave me feeling that you can never have enough brown tones in any paint collection you own.

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After a game of two I needed to add in an new dog and it’s handler. West Wind only have two sculpts for hunting dogs so I decided on another chap and his faithful companion. Not quite in the same style as before. All went well until my matt varnish again dried to a dusty frosted look. As the figure in question is an older fellow, this was not a total disaster as the dusty look just made him look even more characterful.

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Our scenery was again progressing well with the newest buildings being a couple of large blocks from the weird world war II game, Dust Tactics. We had played about with this particular game in the year before the shed was built, and as the newest expansion of the game would allow me to use these buildings in this, and a number of other games, they were a must have for me. Dust Tactics (and soon afterwards, Dust Warfare) would make a reappearance on the gaming table in the next year but that is a story for later…

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With all the buildings available to us, the gaming table gave us the cramped alley strewn look I wanted, but the differing building styles were not quite how I wanted the look to go! It would be time to invest in a look that would see me through the next phase of this game and on to the next game too.

Another faction beckoned but it would come from a new source, and this one would take longer to mature than even I expected. The age of the Kickstarter was about to begin.

To be continued…

Anything For The Empire…

After all that historical stuff we were craving something a little out of the normal. One of my friends has a habit of leading us astray by buying stuff for me to read and thus influencing our gaming habits (sometimes not to subtly).

This time he simply went out and bought 3 copies of Empire of the Dead by West Wind Productions. Its a great, simple and small scale game which we could proxy figures into to start with (my Malifaux crew have been on more EotD missions than anything else).

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Empire of the Dead is set in an alternate, gothic Victorian era where a steampunk style of imagery has clearly influenced the world view. A great twist on a game world and one that lends itself well to the stories many gamers would have read as youngsters. A world where vampires and werewolves can be seen side by side with Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. All on a backdrop of high tech steam power and mechanical servants.

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A few reinforcements were needed as this is designed to be a campaign game. As members of a gang die or new members are recruited I would find that my Malifaux range would need to be complemented with figures that didn’t look too out of place.

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Starting with a Zendarian gentleman’s club I had my leaders and heroes already. I needed basic troopers to represent their footmen and personal guards… ¬†West Wind do a range of Victorian Gothic types and they fit well with the Malifaux range too.

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To play this game the way it deserves, a new terrain setting was again needed. Some of my buildings would work well but the cramped smokey cities I wanted would need something more. I think my modelling bug truly started here… The table deserved all types of extra touches like the lamp posts and gardens pictured.

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This was an endeavour that would go on for some time as one gentleman’s club is never enough for some of us…

To be continued…

Tomahawks all the way…

Saga was a great rule set for us. Is a great rule set in general. All great rules must be born and nurtured by a great rules writer (they probably prefer the term Game Designer, sounds more professional).

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The guys at Studio Tomahawk did a great job on Saga so we trusted in their skills and tried Muskets and Tomahawks next. One of my friends has been fascinated by the tales of Rogers Rangers and the French Indian wars ever since his childhood. He had been talking about trying this era for months by then, without getting very far. It didn’t appeal to all of us but I talked myself into joining in and I picked up some napolionic bits and bobs along with a few AWI figures to try out this new era.

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It also gave me the perfect excuse to buy even more buildings (notice a theme yet?). This time it was a quartet of old west log cabins. These are again 4ground prepainted mdf and were a joy to put together.

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I already had a few Wild West shop fronts made by Sarissa and having plenty of old west buildings will be useful as one day we will probably end up with a cowboy game of some sort.

Only time will tell if I am right…

A Tale Of Two Warbands. The Saga Begins…

Saga. A little game you might of heard about before.

We found it, as is often the case, when a friend started collecting something new. In this case it was dark age miniatures. Vikings to be exact. In an effort to keep up and get some use out of these miniatures we all bought into the Saga buzz.
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Saxons have always appealed to me. I didn’t find the thought of painting all those miniatures in one go appealing though. Time was against me with family and work commitments at that point leaving little time for a paintbrush.
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I did find time to identify a reliable and fair priced painter for hire though. Felix Figure Painting did a sterling job on my first warband and supplied me with something I had always wanted. Villagers, a village looks empty without them and so many games call for objectives these days it would have been foolish not to get some done at the same time…
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Pop in a few extra archers and huscarls from my older collections and I was ready. I already had the setting ready as my ever growing collection of buildings contained thatched cottages that would fit our needs nicely. Again 4Ground provided a beautiful backdrop for our games.
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The Saga was started… It wasn’t to end there though. After playing skirmish games for so long now we began to dream of larger battles. My mind drifted back to our games of yesteryear. It was WAB back then, but why go back when so many new games are out there to look forward to. A new game beckoned. But I would new more men…

Then there was everybody’s favourite villains… The pirates

Everyone loves pirates, right?

We had been talking about getting into a pirate game for a month or two when we went to Warfare in Reading. Talk about good timing…

On display there were the new Black Scorpion pirate ranges and their pirate game, Cutlass. 3 rule books later we were all off and digging through our bits boxes for figures that could be pressganged into a pirate crew. Fortunately some old Games-workshop Empire sprues were kicking about in my drawers which, with a little effort, would do just fine.

The first crew were based on planking made from blue craft foam, cut and carved to size. Only problem was, it melts when exposed to plastic cement. The second attempt worked better but the glue then reacted with the matt varnish leaving the boots of the crew looking a little odd. Matt varnish has often been problematic for me as you will come to see.
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Second crew were based without making as much of an effort and worked more to my liking.
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The buildings in the photos are mostly made by 4Ground and are excellent examples of their prepainted, lasercut, MDF range. I love these and they often find their way into many of our games.
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Cutlas has a unique and fun initiative steeling mechanic which keeps you wondering just how long you can keep going before you fail something and lose the initiative to your opponent.

As usual though, before too long, we found a new shiny thing in the form of Saga to distract us…

Buildings, buildings, buildings…

Buildings, buildings, buildings...

All that free space in a new shed. It kind of goes to your head. With me it was the first time that I had found space to store my gaming collection all in one place.

Never before had I been able to keep everything to hand and be able to pick and choose what table elements that we wanted from shelves all about us…

Friends will likely remember when my terrain was stored in their homes (in stairways especially) as a fix for me never having enough space to store it at home…

I know many gamers that never have the luxury of space. I had never had this luxury before. In the years before, I had stored gaming boards in an old, leaky shed, a garden storage box or under a spare bed… Setting up for a game could sometimes involve a minimum of 3 trips upstairs and 2 to the garden. All that had to be done before searching for where I had put the figures I would need for a game.

I guess I went to town (excuse the pun) by buying half a city’s worth of buildings. The starting point was a range of town houses by Sarissa Precision. Great looking builds and easy to work with. Quickly followed by buildings from Warbases and 4Ground.

The picture shows the first of these. The others you will see in time, they are a staple for most games played in the shed and cover a wide range of periods.