Monday, February 13, 2012

The Devil Dogs have landed

This afternoon I spent a couple hours digging through boxes trying to locate all the minis I'd purchased for the Aliens table. Found most of the marines pretty quickly but the predator models took me forever to find almost as though they were invisible... after much searching, frustration and swearing they finally showed up.

I have my miniatures collection scattered between 12 banker file boxes and about a half dozen plastic bins so when something gets really buried there's a lot to sort through. The upside was I re-found tons of stuff I'd forgotten I had. As most of it is for games I no longer play I'll probably be tossing a lot of it up on ebay over the next month or so.

Once I had all the minis dug out I started getting them on bases and launched into stripping off a bunch of the rifles so I could replace them with pulse rifles. Working with pewter normally isn't too bad as I have a dremmel and a jewelry saw both of which tear through minis like butter. The copplestone marines however are made some super tough material that is a total PITA to work with.

The minis got super hot from the dremmeling and the metal was turning into slag rather than coming off in flakes like normal. After stopping and cleaning out the grooves on the bit four separate times it was completely done for. I though maybe it was just because the bit was getting old so I switched out bits and the new bit did no better. but at least at this point I'd removed the majority of the material. The fine ball engraver I use for the tight clean up was virtually useless and the tip snapped off after about 5 minutes.

I've been working with my dremmel for 3 years now and never run into minis that are this tough, they should make bullets out of these things!  I switched out to hand carving the rest of the work which was painfully slow, but I managed to get 4 marines updated with their rifles.


Copplestone Troopers with Hasslefree pulse rifles added:





More troopers, later on these will be converted into carrying flamers:


The mini on the far right will be used for Apone. He should in theory have a helmet on but rule of cool is all bad ass leaders have a bullet proof head. Of the roughly 20 different male trooper sculpts only two have black features, the fact he also has a Sargent hat made him a natural choice for Apone. Prior to the combat drop he's always wearing his Sarge' hat on board the ship, I think I will need to add a cigar to complete the look.


And yet more troopers, these will remain as is:


The guy with the shotgun will of course be Hicks, one of the heavy gunners will be switched out with a female troops for Vazquez once I get a pack of the female troopers. The female heavy gunner had some crazy hair so I'll do a head swap with another one that has short hair and a head band on. I am also going to pick up some more minis from Hasslefree for Ripley, Newt and likely Bishop.

One very slight downside is that only two of the Copplestone troop options are armed with pistols. As the main scenario of the Aliens game takes place in the reactor room they've handed over their ammo and are using only pistols and flame throwers. It'll be too difficult to modify these to be carrying handguns so players will just have to use a little imagination. In more free form games they should all normally be armed with pulse rifles.

I also have about 15 more troopers and a 5 man bio-hazard team that aren't pictured here.


Of course with the marines all pretty much taken care of I need some Aliens. I have about 8 of the horrorclix aliens but some of them are in crazy positions up on walls. There's only about 4 useful ones and they are dang expensive to buy nowdays on ebay as they've been discontinued. I can sculpt some from scratch but that's probably more work than I want so I kitbashed this one out of parts I had on hand. I think it looks pretty good so far.






It'll need some green stuff work and the back pipes added. Once painted I think it'll make a pretty good approximation of an xenomorph alien. I'm not sure if I'm going to keep the set of ridges on the head figured I'd try something different. But I may go with the more traditional sleek head. I like how the hands came out, it has the two middle fingers joined and a thumb like finger on either side side the hand.

It's a bit shorter in height than the horrorclix mini so it's probably a bit more in scale with the marines.




And then there's the not-predators, these are Heresey's "Hurn" but we all know what they really are. These guys are great models although a bit on the large and beefy side. I have 6 of these, three of each face variant. They have a couple weapon options, the downside however is that there's only one pose.





One really screwed marine:



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vegas is King Baby


2012 is looking like it's going to be a very busy year gaming wise. Not only will I be tackling an Aliens themed table but one of my friends proposed an absolutely genius idea for a zombie survival game.

3000 miles to Zombieland, merging the King of actions films with what else but zombies!




The criminal Elvi syndicate is in the midst of their greatest casino heist ever when things go horribly, horribly wrong.

What dies in Vegas doesn't stay dead in Vegas, and they quickly find themselves walled in against the hordes of the undead. They must now escape Zombie Vegas to the safety of Graceland.

Basically it's an over the top excuse to play a zombie game with some of the great Elvis miniatures that are on the market. Mix in a bunch of raw 1950's style Americana & Vegas pulp with with a helping of Zombies and a dash of elements from Six String Samurai. The resulting stew can only be made of win... and gooey zombie nuggets.




The idea is to get a game put together that we can run at next years Adepticon and Little Wars conventions (in 2013). In the mean time we'll be painting up a squad of killer Elvi with guns to pit against hundreds of undead on the streets of Vegas.

May the best King win.




.

ALIENS



Now I know that this isn't mecha related but I've yet to meet anybody that likes sci fi & mechs that dislikes  the first two Aliens movies. It had such a huge impact on modern sci fi and is a key source of inspiration for just about any game that uses a dark forlorn setting.

I saw Aliens for the first time when I was about 11 and it scared the living crap out of me, but I also found it such a fascinating film and presentation of how good sci should be. I'm also a huge fan of Blade Runner as it likewise has incredible imagery and atmosphere. I'm also dying to see what he does with Prometheus when it releases later this year.







Back in  1989 I picked up a copy of the Aliens board game which was put out by Leading Edge. They also had several different miniatures sets available to use in place of the card board cut out. It is a scenario based game that did an amazing job at recreating the feel of the movies. You started out in the reactor room where the marines first get attacked. Then the next map takes place in the communications room as they retreat back into the medical station and finally into the airducts.

The map is laid out on a square grid system, the marines start within a deployment zone near the reactor room stairwell and must proceed to a door way on the far edge to escape. Alien deployment is random and based on dice rolls, You roll to determine what row they deploy in and then a second roll tells you what location on that row the alien pops out on. This creates for a difficult survival scenario where the Aliens can literally appear on top of on of your marines and ruin even the best of plans.


(recreated map)

Each marine has a set number of actions (usually two) which they can split between firing and moving. Their ability to hit is a percentage based on the range and if they apply one action or two representing an aimed shot. It is often a very a tricky balance between moving and firing. Your squad moves in a set order each turn so you can get gummed up in tight spots, it can make for some difficult tactical choices and stings really bad when you opt not to move in order to fire and end up missing. It's very important to work and manoeuvre as a squad but the ability to do so is constantly tested by the sequence being challenged.

What made this game interesting to me was that it could be played single player, it was fun if you had two people but the solo play was equally as challenging.

Fitting with the theme of the movie the game is very stacked against the marines and you will lose a good portion of the games, but that's also what makes it such a great challenge and something I played countless times.

They latter added an on expansion pack which covered more areas of the story, five new mission including entering the queens lair to save Newt and the final powerloader vs queen fight.







S**  H*** came out that same year as the Aliens game, but I honestly think Aliens is far superior. It focuses heavily on the squad mechanic and has random location deployment for the aliens which add a great deal of difficulty. There are less opportunities to fire at the aliens, and rolls are on a D10 for a better probability spread.  Ammunition use is an issue and grenades while powerful can also kill your own marines if you are not exceedingly careful.

I do enjoy SH a fair amount but their enemies have deployment with tokens and there's no ambushing, there's just waterboy style waves of monsters. I've always felt to be a bit limited, there's also lot more actions and shooting involved per phase which I think changes a bit how the game feels. With Aliens I think it simulates the cramped quarters and potential ambush threats are far greater. Plus due to certain events over the last year it's really soured me with anything regarding products from that particular company so I've completely divorced myself from their games.

The downside to all this greatness is that Leading Edge shut down back in 1993, and even prior to shutting down they were having difficulties getting product distributed effectively so the original game is very difficult to come by. I never was able to get the expansion pack or many of the miniatures. I managed to get the queen miniature and a squad of marines but never had any of the warrior aliens of character models as my local shop just couldn't get them in no matter how much I pestered them.

To make matters worse I lost my copy either when my basement flooded or when I moved during my senior year. But the times playing it will forever be among my fondest gaming memories. O' precious Aliens box, how I morn thee.





Prior to the re-issue of SH I had been trying to recreate what I could remember of the Aliens game but didn't get too far as it'd been a long, long time since I'd played it. I found a bunch of modelling blogs and stuff on DakkaDakka that got a bunch of my creative juices flowing but ended up diverting me a bit more towards playing  SH for a time as it was easier to attain as I already had minis and I could find rules online for it. And of course about a year later they did the re-issue so people could buys actual copies again.

As nice as it's been to have SH available again the Aliens bug was still inside me. (damn face huggers). Having played the superior Aliens game I wasn't content with SH,  so over the last two years I've been thinking about how to create my own AVP style game that way I could run a mix of marines, aliens and predators for all sorts of destructive action. I've picked up a few of the heroclix figures and created a number of 3-d models for terrain. I have a number of floor sections completed and printed but are still awaiting casting.






They are a few of the many unfinished projects I embarked on over the last year that I have almost complete but are currently neglected by my general state of apathy. My modelling ADD is quite severe at times as I get a huge rush and make great progress initially but run out of steam before completion. It also hasn't helped that I've been fighting with a lot of depression the last several months. (It's also the reason why my Robotech stuff was on hold for about 6 months as well) I feel like I'm back on a more positive swing now so hopefully I can refocus some of that energy and get the pieces for my table underway.




Anyways so where this long rant is headed is that I was doing some blog hopping and found a couple things my previous google-fu had missed. Fans on Board Game Geek have compiled a couple of text files with the original rules sets and homemade tokens, which has helped restart my interest in this project. back when this all started in 2009 I either hadn't thought to look there or I'd missed it when searching. But it's there and it has me drooling with ideas.


There's also a pair of great blogs entries on Dawn of the Lead and also ColorCrayons. Dawn of the lead is a great blog I've been watching for a while, during my initial search for suitable models I saw his photos for some of AVP horrorclixs. I also really liked the minis he used from copplestone casting, so I'd picked up some of those as well which have been sitting on my shelf for the last year and a half.

He's likewise started the venture into the brave world of a 3D board. Given that I'm still two years into this with much to show I have a feeling he'll far outpace me on speed and be more fun to watch. ;)


Also I saw a link on his blog which was AWESOME. Somebody has made a flash based version of the Aliens game which is up on battlegrounds. I spent pretty much my entire day playing it and it's  every bit as challenging as the original board game. I'm hoping that at some point the creator will code in all of the expansion missions.

Flash Based Aliens:  http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/408816





The game play is a little tricky at first but the tutorials explain everything pretty well and you too will be able to waste many many hours with this great game. As awesome as this is my sickness is much deeper and not sated by mere video games, so I endeavor to return to working on my 3D table.

I've seen a couple of very inspiring fan recreations, the colored map at the beginning of this entry is one that's absolutely blown me away. I also saw some cool stuff using the boards from the DOOM game.



These give me some cool new ideas for floor tile designs and ideas for an expanded set of scenarios and layouts that I'll need to sit down and pen together. I do plan on having some walls and and various objects to use for LOS blocking obstacles. It'll take me a bit to get those together, although more floor tiles should be pretty fast to piece together.

Friday, February 10, 2012

It came from the 1980's...

I was digging around through some boxes in the garage which had a bunch of half built and ruined gundam kits. One of the boxes didn't seat quite right as there was way too much junk jammed in it. I popped the lid expecting to see a bunch of junk and just about wet my pants with happiness.

Inside were two seperate 1/48 Robotech Alpha Veritechs!

One half built, but with all the remaining parts on the sprue and one still bagged and 100% untouched, as though it travelled in a DeLorean time machine directly to me from 1984.

These things go for a mint on ebay nowdays, I was so happy I could almost cry.    :D





These were originally sold as Go Bot Leader-1 kits by Monogram but it's repackaged models from the Robotech Invid arc aka Mospeada. (they even have the robotech mars base markings for decals) They were very expensive kits at the time and had several die cast parts, working landing gears, rubber tires and were fully transformable. Not to mention they were 1/48 scale which was huge compaired to most other robotech kits which were either 1/100, or 1/200.




(somebody's stock pic)

Being that I was 10 at the time there was no way I could get one, but I drooled over it every time I went by the hobby shop. I had a couple of the smaller non-transformable versions which came in sets of 3 for about $5 back in the day. But they just weren't the same as I wanted the transformable big daddy.

6-7 years later when I was in high school I happened upon these two in a K mart  clearance bin for about $10 each when they'd been about $50-$60 originally. Their boxes had been smashed up pretty good but the insides were fine.

Later that summer my basement flooded when our sump pump burned out and everything downstairs was pretty much trashed with nasty black sewer water.

Apparently I'd cleaned the parts off but the boxes and instructions were ruined and no way to salvage them. The kits went into a box that's been apparently been ignored for the better part of 20 years until today.

The difficulty now is that I have a pair of extremely complex models, the partially assembled model only needs to have one arm and one leg built and there's still over sixty pieces in the box!

I think I can maybe figure it out by studying the built arm/leg, but I have no clue how I'm going to go about building the other one without instructions the internal transformation parts were pretty complicated.

I shot an email off to Revell/Monogram but no idea if they'll be able to help as the kit is 27 years old now.

(geez I feel old)





Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Airmech




I ran across a link to Airmech on JBR's blog. Hadn't seen it before but I gave it a couple test plays and it's pretty dang cool. It's by the team that did Herzog Zweii which was an incredibly awesome turn based strategy game that was available on the sega genesis and turbo graphix.

The coolest feature IMO is the veritech like avatar that represents a hero unit for the controller, so you get plenty of transforming robot action. Its also a lot faster paced than most RTS games that I've played. Has some great sound effects as well.






You can sign up to play it on google https://carbongames.com/signup.html?id=username

A learn to play video and controls are explained here: https://carbongames.com/airmech/help.html