For months now, probably since the start of the year, Mi Hermano Collaboratore Jonesy and I have been working on a terrain concept. Progress has been slow, almost ground to a halt at times, since we only routinely worked on it every Sunday afternoon, and even that suffered many cancellations due to ill health, other gaming events and sundry distractions.
Last year, before the money ran out, I treated myself to multiple sets of the Industrial Terrain set from Wargames Tournaments. Well basically I bought one, liked it but decided I needed a bit more, then won an auction for a triple-sized set.
|One Industrial Terrain set|
Now we decided that though the platforms themselves were quite nice, to make this look like any sort of plausible real-world industrial complex, we needed a lot more solid Stuff(tm). Pipes, tanks, buildings - Stuff in and around the platforms to make it look like things are being stored, transported and or processed around the site.
Six months later...
I couldn't find a camera angle that took it all in. Apologies for the crappy photography, but I'm rather out of practice!
Let's see, we have assorted drinks cans and pringles tubes, domestic 40mm PVC piping, gasometers made from biscuit tins, shipping containers from Mad Mecha Guy and Demo's Lasercut Designs and tons more. Oh and a converted £10 kids toy construction crane. It easily fills most of my 8'x6' table, leaving a 1' margin on two sides (used here for a road and a railway)
None of it is world-class modelling material, and it doesn't really bear too close an inspection. But as the old Soviet saying goes, "quantity has a quality all its own."
The scene's really brought to life by some of the 1/43 die-cast vehicles I've been collecting over the years. Most are out and out toys, like this Teamsterz "Load & Go" delivery truck. The blacktop main road is a commercial product made by someone on eBay, the lighter grey sections are a WIP, made with sandpaper stuck to cheap vinyl tiles.
I recently discovered a vendor called www.carmodel.com, an outfit based in Italy who sell all scales of collectible die-cast cars. What drew me to them was they had a category labelled "Cheap 1/43 cars", which includes a whole load of Russian/East European vehicles for as little as 3.99 Euros. These are absolutely fantastic for giving a non-US or Western Europe vibe, and are exactly the sort of vehicle you might expect to see crop up in a third world country. One thing we do still need is more actual buildings, but for now we have the Plasticville(?) gatehouse and that's about it.
One feature I'm quite pleased with is the "bits box factory machinery" bases. They are, exactly as the name suggests, random bits from the bits box hotglued together to a suitable base. Having been thrown hastily together and sprayed black last December for the "ruined factory" table, I finally got around to painting them. I went with a very crude rough base colour drybrush for everything, with a lighter more selective silver drybrush on top. Again literally 5 minutes work, but the overall result is quite effective at giving the impression of dirty, used machinery.
In addition to just throwing out some pipes and spraypainted tin cans onto the table, we've tried to do a couple of more complex pieces, like this wossname, doohickey type thing. Don't ask me what exactly it's meant to represent. But it's a Nesquick plastic tub smooshed together with the WT platforms and the machinery from a toy police tow-truck bunged on top.
To all this we added a ton of scatter. My friend Dave had gifted us with a load of oil drums which helped massively with the industrial feel. Streetlamps, dumpsters, gas and liquid tanks from Ainsty and Ramshackle and planters from Antenocitis. Basically anything that could break up line of sight or provide cover.
There's tons more I could show or talk about - I've not even touched on the gasometers or the crane or the converted container lorries or... you get the drift. Six months of work, remember? And still we're a long way from "finished" with this terrain. As I mentioned, we want more actual buildings for figures to be able to move into and around, the pipework needs painting and expanding somewhat (we have some narrower gauge pipe to complement the 40mm stuff), and I really want a chain link fence to surround the whole facility(or at least on two sides).
But it's 75% there and 75% is good enough to play on, especially since it's been "in development" for so long. So far we've played two games on this setup - The first a Flying Lead battle pitching the Paradiso farmers Guerilla army against the Sunrise Corp security. Despite early successes breaching the gate and the perimeter, the guerillas were quickly contained and pinned down by the defenders, fighting from superior positions in the walkways (and out the back of one container truck!).
The other game we've played was a test run of the new 7TV 2nd edition Beta rules. To the uninitiated, 7TV from Crooked Dice is designed to let players recreate action and adventure shows from the 60s and 70s. The supporting ranges of figures would be only two familiar to anyone who'd watched British TV in the last 50 years, Jonesy and I had been planning to try out the 1st edition for a while, but never gotten around to it. Since we're not collecting their figures, and the Spy-fi figures I have aren't painted yet, instead we went for an "80s private detective show" theme, with a little warband I've put together called the Redd Foxx Detective Agency (more on them in a future blog post) infiltrating.. yes you've guessed it, a Sunrise Corp. industrial complex.
The 7TV 2nd Ed rules are greatly streamlined from 1st ed, and in my opinion do a better job of emulating a TV show's format. There's a nifty card-based countdown mechanic to limit the length of the game, with the cards doubling up as Chance cards for random happenings (all couched in TV terms like "Casting Call" or "Continuity Error"). There's an activation mechanic, which means you can't necessarily do everything with your entire force every turn, and each side has access to a pool of one-shot "Gadgets" to help them.
Our first impression is very favourable. We played a small band of a Star & 4 Co-stars (the Detectives) against three times as many Extras with one Co-star leader. The game felt very balanced - stars and co-stars are more competent and get more activations, but putting any of them out of action gives the opposition both bonus activations and victory points. Meanwhile Extras need to be clumped together under leaders in order to be activated as groups, but you have to kill a lot more of them to get their side to the morale break-point (or "Axed", in 7TV parlance) and then they don't count towards victory points.
The game felt very even throughout until the very end, but on counting up the victory points was a massive win for the Sunrise Corps at 8-1, mainly due to taking out my Co-stars. The rules writing seemed pretty tight, as you'd expect from a 2nd edition, with very few headscratching moments if any. As a Beta set, the rules included none of the background fluff from the "official" 7TV series casts (i.e. factions) and no campaign rules.
The one negative I have is that you're supposed to select your cast from a selection of pre-generated archetypes, stats for which are provided on attractive character cards. But I found those archetypes very limiting in their options. There are some quite elegant and simple rules for customising Stars and Co-stars in a limited way, but you may not find yourself able to create any imaginable character within the rules.
All in all, I'm filing 7TV as a useful set of rules suitable for light-hearted pulpy action, along with Pulp Alley. The Beta set is so tight and fluff-free that I can see us carrying on playing from these beta booklets even after the full game is released. Like Pulp Alley though, it's not so suitable for general military combat, or gritty urban crime. Flying Lead from Ganesha Games remains my favourite go-to ruleset for generic modern firearm combat, with the state of 2HW's Chain Reaction currently hanging in the balance after it proved unpopular with Jonesy and a couple of others in my gaming circles.
I am however currently looking closely at FiveCore from Nordic Weasel Games, after enjoying he Brigade Commander version so much. I rather like the idea of being able to fight a five-man skirmish, a company level action and a brigade level action using essentially the same game mechanics. The main stumbling block is whether some of the game's key assumptions will sit well with some players.
I'm still looking for a good modern "Toy Soldiers" game i.e. one where having a fun game takes precedence over strict realism. I generally describe this concept as "40K Modern", where I can field several tanks and APCs along with 28mm infantry support and have a fun game on an 8'x5' table (despite "realistically" those distances being ridiculously tight and close for those forces.) FUBAR is one possible option for this, but I'm also hoping to try out Mongoose's defunct Battlefield Evolution rules (available as PDF at Wargame Vault)
On the Company level, I also find myself intrigued by Warfare In The Age Of Madness, which looks like it's pitched at the same sort of game as 5Core Company Commander (about 12 elements, single vehicles and squad elements, smallish playing area) and also straddles the divide between real-world modern and sci-fi/post apocalyptic eras. But although the rules have been out for a while, I've yet to find anyone on the web reporting having actually played a game of it, and although they're very reasonably priced at Wargames Vault, I've currently hit my spending limit for the month so they'll have to wait.
On the other hand, I'm waiting for the boys at WinterOf79 to get their act together and release their In Development game "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Sterlings." so I can throw my money at them. After all, how can you not love a game that categorises its troop quality levels "Hard", "Blokes", "Lads" and "Tossers"?