Monday, July 29, 2013

Post-Apocalyptic Warriors from Lead Adventure Miniatures - Inspired by 'Metro 2033'

'Road Guards' from Lead Adventure Miniatures.
Dmitry Glukhovsky's 'Metro 2033' (2005) is a post-apocalyptic novel set within the Moscow subway system about 20 years after a worldwide nuclear/biological war. The story focuses on the adventures of a young man, Artyom, as he struggles to both find his own path and save the people from his home station at VDNKh (a metro station, from what I understand, in the Ostankinsky District of north-east Moscow). His odyssey through the metro system sees him meeting neo-nazis, hard-line communists, cannibalistic cults, religious fanatics and terrifying mutants with psionic powers. Yes, the lad is kept very busy!

Since its release the book has enjoyed substantial success in Russia and Europe, has had many fan-based stories based upon its setting, and has had two XBox videogames released over the past few years (which, as an unrepentant geek, I have played both). Probably the most telling barometer of its success is that in 2012 the movie rights to 'Metro 2033' were purchased by MGM - with a producer already having stepped forward to lead the project.

Hobby-wise, the novel has also inspired several sculptors, probably the most notable being the talented 'Ratnik' from Lead Adventure Miniatures. As soon as I saw this range of figures I knew I had to give them a go. These five lads are from the 'Road Guards' pack.

I had a great time working on these figures as there are really no rules to how they can be painted. I knew it would be relatively easy to keep these guys dark and muted to match the theme, but I decided to buck the trend and go a little punchy with the colours.  I chose a relatively high-contrast palette with discordant colours and some crazy camo schemes. In particular, I quite enjoyed painting the blue camo which was apparently worn by Russian infantry during the nasty fighting in Chechnya in the late 90s. 

Russian blue tone camouflage from the 2nd Chechen War.

For the bases I was inspired by the wonderful work of Sidney Roundwood who utilizes a high-contrast, colour-saturated approach to his Great War figures.  In this vein, I wanted to reinforce the idea of a nuked urban environment by using shattered red bricks, destroyed masonry and broken piping, all of which is contrasted against a background of light grey ash. It's a little over the top but I think I like the overall effect. 

I have several more packs from Lead Adventure to do (along with some Copplestone Neo-Soviets) so I'll post them as they come off the hobby desk.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Worst Case Scenario #6 - Chariot Race to Escape the Red Sea

'So it is written, so shall it be done... or is that the other way around? Whatever, surf's up boys - get stuck in!'
We had friends visiting from out of town last week so I was trying to come up with a game which could accommodate around seven to eight players, be fast moving while easy to pickup. After looking through my stuff and doing a little bit of thinking I decided to resurrect an old scenario that I had run about ten years ago, a biblical chariot race where the charioteers had to escape the floor of the Red Sea in the wake (literally) of Moses' miracle.

It's around 1440 BC. The setting is somewhere along the Gulf of Suez. Moses has parted the Red Sea (or 'Reed Sea' as some believe) and his Israelites have passed through to take refuge on the opposite shore. Not easily deterred, the Egyptian Pharaoh, Rameses I, has sent in his army in hot pursuit of Moses and the hebrew slaves. 

This army is led by a menagerie of inbred Egyptian princes, each mounted on a chariot, and each keen as mustard to gain fame and glory in the coming subjugation of the Israelites. Well, as we all know, the jig was up when Moses 'turned the taps back on' and the Egyptian army, which was fully arrayed on the sea floor, is subsequently destroyed by the closing avalanche of water. 

BUT, what of the Egyptian princes? 

Styrofoam 'water-walls' and craft paper sea floor - the hobby at its most rudimentary form.
The game begins with the princes, all realizing that they are in mortal danger, turning their chariots about in an attempt to madly dash back up the collapsing chasm of water to safety. Each player leads a chariot team whose only goal is to survive this watery doom by keeping ahead of the onrushing water and ahead of the pack, no matter what the cost.

'Waddya mean these things don't come equipped with a flotation device?'
The bright side to all this is that the survivor(s) will have a much easier time at the Egyptian court, what with the royal bloodline being so watered down... (ba-dum-pish! rimshot!).

So the players girded their loins, tightened their reins, and cracked the whip, knowing only a few (if any) would survive the closing of the Red Sea!

The water wall (to the left) moved forward during the game, slurping up charioteers in its path.
For rules I used the excellent 'Charioteer' by Two Hour Wargames which I shamelessly fiddled with in order to create some over-the-top Cecil B. DeMille action. Accordingly we had giant crabs spooking horse teams, seaweed 'road hazzards' and enormous sea serpent tentacles whipping from the water-wall to bash nearby chariots. Yep, completely silly but fun. 

'Charioteer' does a very nice job of abstracting the pell mell of racing by simulating the dynamic of the pack of chariots as they try to pass, whip and bash one another in order to gain the lead position. As you can see you don't need much room for the playing surface and it's dead easy to set up. I would think that in 15mm or 10mm it would be very transportable for club games. There are even campaign rules for running your own teams of chariots over a season of racing, with tracking of victories, defeats, betting and dirty tricks. Very cool.

All of the chariots are from the Wargames Foundry biblical range and painted by members of the Fawcett Ave Conscripts.
As I was trying my best to keep the rules straight in my thick skull most of the game's details became a bit of a blur to me. I do know that Sylvain took the lead and, except for a few challenges, never relinquished it for the entire race. Nonetheless, behind our hurtling Frenchman it was a mad scrum of charioteers, each vying for positions at the lead, all the while the onrushing wall of water inexorably nipped at their heels. 

Hey, can we turn back? I think I dropped my iKopesh back there...
I do remember poor Jeremy attempting to bash Chad's team with his chariot but having everything go horribly, horribly wrong. He ended up as a spectacular out-of-control wreck, who finally came to rest three lanes (and a few places back) from his original position. All-in-all, three of the charioteers made it back to safety, meeting Rameses at the temple of Set to give him the bad news about his pursuit.

The mad dash to safety.

Hey Boss, about that Moses guy...
It was good fun, with the guys very much playing to the spirit of the scenario and the rules holding up admirably well under my half-arsed modifications. I look forward to trying them again in a race set in a proper 'circus maximus'.

What?!  Do I have to do EVERYTHING myself?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Landsknecht Sharpshooter Team

I realize that its gone a bit quiet here on the blog these past few weeks. Summer has made its glorious appearance and so outside pursuits have taken priority at Schloss Campbell-Hanks. Nonetheless, I've not been completely idle on the hobby front and to back this up here are two lads ready for their puff-and-slash debut.

One of the things that wrapped up a little while ago was the Seventh Season of the Lead Painters' League. I had a great time participating in this event, managing to get a wide range of stuff assembled and painted over the League's 10 weeks. Some of my efforts were well received while others were, um, less successful, :) but that's how it goes and I had a blast working on each of my entries and especially enjoyed seeing the work of my fellow competitors.

At about the half-way mark of the League, an anonymous follower of the competition generously awarded three prizes to several submissions that struck his/her fancy. I was both surprised and delighted to find that my Spanish Civil War Moroccan Regulares was one of those lucky enough to be singled-out for a prize - a choice of a pack from the fabulous offerings over at Lead Adventure Miniatures. How very cool!

My fifth LPL entry: Moroccan Regulares
It took a little bit of hand-wringing as so many of the models from Lead Adventure are brilliant, but I finally made up my mind - deciding to choose a characterful Landsknecht Sharpshooter Team from their Bruegelburg range. 

These Lead Adventure miniatures are beautiful sculpts, crisp, clean and with loads of character. One reason that I went with this pack was the fabulous dwarf 'spotter', calmly teetering on his stilts, identifying the target for his colleague below. 

A pre-op shot of the dwarf spotter.
While on the whole I really liked the sculpt of the stilted spotter, I thought that his pose seemed a bit two-dimensional as the alignment of his body, arm, spyglass and stilts were all on the same vertical plane. So I cut him along his shoulders, under his gorget, and with the help of a little pinning and sculpting putty I repositioned his torso 90 degrees in an attempt to make his pose a little more dynamic (I also gave him a bit of a hunchback as I thought it would fit in with the sensibility of the period). Overall this mod seems to have worked alright, and as an added bonus his right-hand stilt now serves as an impromptu musket rest (I think they called them 'Swinefeathers') for his sharpshooter partner. (I also had to replace the stilt's foot-strap to allow the firelock's barrel enough room to pass through.)

As the figures have an almost cartoonish quality about them I wanted the groundwork to reflect this while also serving to compliment their colourful garb. So I added a load of grass, shrubs and flowers to give the base a verdancy bordering on the Disneyesque. It seems to work fairly well, with the tree also providing a backdrop for this garish duo. 

Again, my great thanks to the League's anonymous benefactor - I really had a wonderful time working on this vignette. Cheers!