Friday, June 29, 2012

Strange Aeons Battle Report: Chapter 1, "Nice Shot Back There"

This is the first Battle report for Strange Aeons that I played with my group, with my Threshold team facing Pete's Lurkers. This was a standard 15BP start on both sides, with all minis and terrain painted/assembled by the fantastic Pete Ceretti. The mission was Fight with Pete going first. Special rules include 1 Action to open the Cemetery Gate and walls giving a Medium cover save. We didn't use Advanced Rules in this game. Since the game was over in 28 minutes and was mostly double moves until the shootout at the OK Corral, I thought a narrative start would be a good report while setting the stage for the story arc of future games. The condensed results are the picture captions. 

15BP List

Cult leader (.45 and knife)
Cultist (knife)
Cultist (.22)

Agent Connery (Character, Lucky, Two Fisted, twin .45’s)
Agent Petri (Lucky, Tommy gun)
Civilian William Forsythe (.22)

 Threshold Agent Connery, Agent Petri and William Forsythe, PhD had spent the last five minutes following the dull ruts of the overgrown carriage path through a twilight rain, where it emerged abruptly from the greyish-green bracken onto a large field behind the dark, hazy church. Connery scanned the old grounds for movement amidst the growing shadows and early Fall drizzle, deftly drawing his twin blued 45’s and cocking their hammers, as one, in practiced silence. Petri had already unslung his Thompson submachine gun back around the bend, him already having added a fresh drum and charged the weapon, the noise buried beneath creaking tree limbs, chirping cricket calls and the mounting hiss of rainfall on canopy. Petri looked out from under his dripping fedora hat, to see if they were followed, though he already knew they were not. 

Top to Bottom: open grave, Connery, Petri, Forsythe
 Forsythe could only start at every snap of twig, tik-tak of falling leaves or the crunch of Summer-dried turf beneath his feet. He had done fieldwork as part of his degree and had an eye for it but perhaps not so in this state of affairs. He took in the scene. The wet hay of summer's grass smelled like warm tea as the rain bands came in on a chilly wind. To their right was a freshly-erected tombstone that glistened bone white with veins of green and a yawning, slimy grave, halfway opened in the wounded old ground like the rictus maw of the dead. Forsythe held his dad’s pistol out ahead of him as his father had taught, the cloying hint of lubricant riding over the wet rot smell that wafted upon the cooler air of the damp woods behind them.

His father was dead now but he would not be buried here, if it was the last thing Forsythe did; though he estimated it may very well be. In his trouser pocket clinked the medal of St. Anthony which was attached to the key of his late father’s new automobile, parked on the fire road back up on the hillside from where they had started. 

Agent Connery nudged his elbow into Forsythe’s chest, gaining his attention. “There are no rules here now, boy-o. You got us this far and we appreciate it. I’ll ask you one more time to leave it to us. We believe what you say now but you are in the same kind of danger that your dad was in this morning.” Forsythe felt Petri’s large, affable hand on his shoulder. Connery continued, “So, if you stay you listen to us and don’t do anything more stupid than coming with us to begin with.” Forsythe didn’t reply so Connery reached over and pinned a deputy badge on the breast of Forsythe’s jacket, uttering, “May as well make it legal, lad.”

As Forsythe nodded, Petri hissed, “Look, behind the tool shed. Looks like your butler Wannamaker has our scent. They must know now, he’s louder than a train wreck.” A jangling shape crashed between the tall grasses in the field above the church, assailing the sky with hoots and yells. Connery tisked, “They don’t know we’re here. He’s running around their graveyard in a dervish, so they have to be coming out for a look. Let’s use it to our advantage.” Petri smiled at that, gently moving Forsythe’s absent-minded pistol out of his own face.

Petri squinted and nodded towards the church, “The circus is back in town.” Men who wore dark purple cowls of The Church of Dagon appeared from the right side of the grounds, cautiously searching around and making for the graveyard between them and the Threshold agents. Petri counted how many men were bearing arms. They still had not spotted the agents but all were armed with something. One yelled at Wannamaker and made a motion like he was shooing a dog. Connery got up from his crouch and started sprinting to the low wall of the graveyard, yelling back, “Last chance! No?!? Let’s go!!!!”

Threshold uses their actions to make for the cover of the graveyard
Wannamaker looses it and tears towards the Threshold group
 They moved as one, pacing off the slower Forsythe but made the wall just as Wannamaker howled and started down the gentle rise from the tool shed, twigs and debris in the air as he drove at them from the left, in full mania. Petri watched him come in with one eye and yelled to Connery, “Best make the tombs in the graveyard! Other side of the wall!” Petri flowed inside smoothly and Connery pulled Forsythe around the slick rock wall into a row of large, pitted crypts overgrown with weeds and ivy. The insane Wannamaker exploded down the groundskeeper’s path like an emaciated gorilla, driving forward, waving a large cleaver and hollering random nonsense words, “Caught! Catch! Squeeze! Spread! Bleed! Father! Son! All or none!”

The maniacal Wannamaker uses both actions to run down his cowering prey
Connery was watching the cultists sprinting towards the main cemetery gates, their eyes wide, unblinking and white through their hoods, their ritual knives glinting as they ran. They had to be stopped, their dark rites could not reach fruition tonight in the catacombs below.

Connery and Petri started firing at the cultists, spall erupting along the grey stone walls and pulpy holes popped in the evil, wormy tree trunk next to the graveyard doors. Petri stood square with the door atop a tomb, trench coat hiked back behind his holstered .45 and tommy gun chattering out steadily, walking “ropes” of bullets around the walls and doors with great effect, eliciting howls from the cultists who tried to hide from the onslaught but were caught surprised by the storm of lead. Connery moved behind Petri, adding expert shots with both pistols, each slide cycling off-time with Petri’s machine gun. It sounded like a war as casings spattered through the rain to the muddy ground around them, their gaze never wavering from the cultists.… with their backs to the closing maniac. 

Connery and Petri pass their sanity check within 5" of the maniac and blaze at the closing Cultists across the wall but even with Connery's command, Forsythe goes Catatonic with fright
Forsythe was frozen in fear as Wannamaker, his father’s butler, bounded in slow motion up to the other side of his wall, his face contorted in amygdala hijacking, impossibly ugly, inhuman and swinging the meat cleaver that killed his father that morning… and it was still stained with blood. William Forsythe’s pistol felt miles away in his hand, tremors and vertigo seemed to shudder him on the spot as the lunatic murderer started to scrabble up the wall, growling, “Meet! Meat! Greet! Eat!” At that, Forsythe blacked out, falling onto the tomb as Connery and Petri blazed their weapons at the cultists pushing on the mossy, oaken doors of the entrance.

Petri saw that Forsythe had collapsed as he looked over his shoulder, yelling, “Wannamaker!” Connery spun and pumped his pistols at Wannamaker who yelped, then crumpled to the lawn, alternating between mewling and roaring.

Wannamaker is wounded as Forsythe recovers from Catatonia
Gaining his feet, Forsythe stood, just as Wannamaker surged up at the same time, a large swatch of his face removed by Connery’s .45 and dribbled the grey masonry of the wall with blood. Forsythe didn’t so much aim as put his gun as close to Wannamaker as he dared, hesitating. He closed his eyes and heard his dad say, “… just squeeze” as he fired. Connery saw Forsythe hesitating and fired at the same time as Forsythe missed, putting one shot into the maniac’s skull with a loud thwack and bloom of red, then turned to the cultists swarming through the open door.
Wannamaker dies just as the Cultists pay their Actions to open the gate and swarm in. Next turn saw Agents Connery and Petri use both of their Heroic skills at once, adding another action for shooting each. It made the difference between a clean win or dying horribly in a pincer trap. 3x double .45 shots and 9 dice of Tommy Gun is no joke at 15 points.
Forsythe opened his eyes and peered over the wall, seeing a blackish diamond of gore on the ground, an awkwardly folded corpse in a dark butler’s suit. A sense of vengeance swelled his pride as he turned and saw Connery take a knee next to Petri who stood over his fellow agent, shooting into the charging cultists and killing the screaming, stumbling pile with strafing strobes of fire and sound. 

Even the dice were maniacs and refused to settle down but in the end, the cultists caught all of the Threshold bullets and the forces of good remained unscathed.
Magazine depleted, Petri set down his smoking Thompson, drew his .45 and stood still waiting for new targets. Connery had already reloaded and policed the bodies, including Wannamaker, retrieving the ancient map from the mad servant’s coat, that which Forsythe had claimed stolen from his father. Forsythe started to speak but Connery cut him off, speaking to the dead men at his feet, “He’s not here. He’s not here.”

At that, a motorcar tried to start in front of the church but wasn’t turning over in the damp air. Petri was already pulling out the satchel charge as he legged it towards the church, trench coat flapping out broadly, like an eagle taking off. Connery started after him but Forsythe, renewed by Wannamaker’s death, grabbed his arm. “Wait! Where are you going?” Connery, halted by the vitality in Forsythe’s tone, answered, “We’ve got to stop them before they go. What do you have in mind?” Forsythe’s brow furrowed under pressure and thought out loud, “They are leaving… because they can. We could not have stopped whatever they are doing. They were committed to this and so if they are running, it means they can, that they have another option. If they did not they would be fighting to the death now, right? It follows that Wannamaker didn’t have the only scroll. We need to let them go so we can find their other option! I only knew of this coven, as did you. We need to find the other one. There is only one route back to town they would take which happens to run past the fire road on which we parked. We can get to my dad’s auto and follow them!” Connery pursed his lips as the rain pattered on his face and said, “You mean your auto.” He considered the lack of counter-attack and the dark automobile now moving through the trees away from them. “You may be right. Petri? Bring it down and let’s go.” Petri pulled the primer cord and fell back to the graveyard walls, muttering a prayer in Italian, clomping up to them with a stop just as the dynamite detonated behind him. The fieldstone building tumbled down, filling the sub cellars in tons of rock, timber, fire and dust. He exclaimed, “What the hell are we doing? Dissertation?” Connery laughed and said, “Something like that. The professor here has a plan. I knew we brought him with us for a reason. Petri, you’re driving. And Forsythe… nice shot back there.

To Be Continued!

The Threshold team discovers 1 map piece in the end phase... the trail is still hot!
Give it up folks, for the Threshold and also to Pete for the amazing terrain and figs!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Strange Aeons WIP: Ghoul

Almost done with this guy. There's just no fighting the rough primer job he got and so, I'll finish some details here and there, like toning his feet, smoothing the corpse foot, aging the shovel metals, highlighting, tidying up and moving to the Daemonic Hound, which is already base coated. Really hard to photograph this guy properly, the neutrals sorta fade out their green and some color shift changes the "blue" tone he has. I'll figure it out at some point, but this is closest to what he looks like in real life.

EDIT: I've just received the Shocking Tales of Madness that has a Gravedigger as a Threshold special agent. maybe this will be that guy. Hmmmm....

Monday, June 25, 2012

Strange Aeons WIP: Ghoul

I know this old GW model is maybe a bit too friendly-looking for a Strange Aeons ghoul but with his converted shovel and backpack full of human legs... well, you know what's on the menu tonight.

Nothing super fancy here, just some layers to get my feet wet for the next round of painting, since I have a desk of primed men and monsters sitting there. I hope to have him finished by Wednesday, we'll see how it goes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Strange Aeons: Objective Markers

I finished 8 Cthulhu objective markers, mounted on 2" bases. Let's hope the Threshold never sees what happens when they are all assembled and aligned as above...

Same as big daddy there, gave them my bronze treatment and green jewel eyes.

Strange Aeons WIP: Ritual Site

I dug out an old GW foam-molded terrain piece I inherited from my buddy Wil. I'm not doing a whole how-to now but I wanted to share WIP shots. I basically cleaned it, trimmed a bunch of stuff off of it to make room for 2" bases, spray painted it with water-based spray paint and went about making it look best I could with an extensive repaint. More later about that but on with the pics...

The seething cauldron/portal/whatever

A plastic Cthulhu statue I bronzed and added gem eyes to. Honestly, he kinds looks awake right here...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Strange Aeons: Bronze Cthulhu Objective Counter

Here's a tester I completed for a Strange Aeons objective counter. I simply used a bag of Mini Mythos that I cleaned up with an Xacto and mounted it on GW 2" bases. I then primed it black. I underpainted it a hard contrast style with some off-white/light grey paint and then some copper paint on top.

After that it got a layer of Verdigris water based stain to tone down the yellow in the copper paint and add some hard lining. To finish it off the paint I added some Model Color Verdigris glaze which I allowed to pool and then rubbed off while wet with my thumb and some flat brushes.

To top it off and make it more mystical-looking I added some 4mm costume jewels for eyes. Seen here are purple/orange/yellow gems. I also got some pale yellow/green ones to add to some others.

I suppose this sounds like a lot of work but all told I probably spent about 20 minutes on him start to finish, not including dry time.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Strange Aeons WIP: Nightgaunts (Conversions)

I wanted to do some conversions for the Strange Aeons Night Gaunts, featured in both H.P. Lovecraft's writings and his childhood nightmares, which were probably like this:

Go check out the original Uncle Mike's miniatures here: Strange Aeons Nightgaunts

I knew I wanted to use Legion of Everblight Harriers since the body type looks like a pretty good match to the illustration in the Strange Aeons rulebook and I already had two Harriers thanks to my buddy Finn at Spindango Fundulation. My buddy JWoolf over at Headwound Minis gave me some GW Bloodletter heads when I decided they'd work best. Together with some snips, greenstuff and some sculpting you get this:

The sell will come with the painting. I haven't decided to either be faithful to the description of a face that is a featureless void or just simply do a monochromatic paint scheme. A featureless void would need some gap filling to mute the facial detail, which I happen to like.

In terms of the game itself, 2 Nightgaunts are 16 points of mayhem and can each Destroy Weapon, which is good in-game. They have Parry and a good enough CC bonus (+2) that starting agents fighting them solo will have to literally be very lucky to survive. They should count themselves lucky if the worst that happens is that they have to re-arm in the re-equip phase. Oddly, buying an agent a Meat Cleaver for 1BP isn't a bad first purchase choice after other skills as the CC bonus matches the Nightgaunt's and cancels out the monster's Parry with its own. If you have that and agents fight together against it the good guys may pull ahead on dice, on average. A bowie knife armed, A3 starting agent would win 1/3 of the time in a straight fight I think these creatures and zombies will be the first gribbly things an agent sees after Cultists so better be ready.


Friday, June 1, 2012

Strange Aeons: WIP Scenes of Horror or R’lyeh Gotta Pee

I have 4 Scenes of Horror for Strange Aeons in the works. First up is a scratch built obelisk/monument/mausoleum/crypt entrance/gateway to another dimension, what have you. I realized after I got this together it also sorta looks like an outhouse. I'm with that.

Materials list: 
  1. Empty dental floss container
  2. CD
  3. Some plasticard off cuts (tile and shingle)
  4. Krylon spray texture
  5. Textured wallpaper
  6. A large Cthulhu figure from FFG’s Bag o’ Cthulhu
  7. Arch and door from GW’s Advanced Heroquest
  8. Hand from GW Zombie Sprue
  9. Cardboard
  10. Superglue and hot glue
  11. Oil based primer (for the textured wallpaper)
  12. Sass

 So the layout is evident by the pics. I cut the lid from the dental floss container and used it as a stoop, which was Crazy Glued. I removed the metal bit that cuts the floss too as you see in the pic above. I glued the Advanced Heroquest arch to the wall, allowing for how the door swings out and I had to cut some sprue into bricks for the bottom of the arch. I then spray textured both the stoop and monument with texture paint to hide cracks and add some interest to the deal. 

I also masked off the Cthulhu statue and texture sprayed the bottom slab of the stature for a nice unifying look with the rest of the monument. I did two coats.

I cut the stoop tile to run across the threshold and fit flush with the vertical face of the floss container, so there was no gap under the door when it was mounted, then glued that on. I added a tile pad for underneath the monument and glued it all down together. 

Steel wool it
Slice it
Rub it down/ oh no!!!!!

Note that you should scuff and cut the surface of CD’s beforehand to give coatings some traction, otherwise it could start shedding your glue and paint jobs. Another thing I was surprised to see was that some of the cheap CD's that would be great for Strange Aeons are terrible. The writing sloughed off a few, probably due to cheap label printing. Do yourself a favor and wash them after the scuff and slice, set the aside to dry and see how they look after drying.

Next I trimmed out the base in textured wallpaper. Sometimes it looks good to mount stuff on top of the wallpaper but I didn’t this time for two reasons. First, the monument is literally heavy and could probably rip off the CD since the textured wallpaper is mostly foam and paper so I wanted a bond right to the plastic CD. Second, the monument looks heavier and more sunken, therefore more ancient, when the ground seems above the level of the tile. I cut a few tile out but will paint the underlying area as tile too, to give the illusion that some tiles are really sunken.

I cut some cardboard as a header for the tile overhang, glued that on and added a molten blob of hotglue to the inside before attaching the roof tile piece, since it needed back filling to grab and secure the tile as the cardboard was too thin and lacked surface area for superglue.

Closing in on the final part of assembly, I trimmed an open zombie hand and glued that to the door, so that once painted and assembled, it will look like something is emerging from inside. I intend on painting glowing eyes inside the door. I had haughty ideas of lighting this nerd up but I have finals the next two weeks so nerts to that.

I spray primed the whole project black so if I can just get some paint time I can finish it up. More pics when it is done.

Adventure 40k End Times? Or Appropriate Skull and Groin Trauma?

This was my wish list for next Edition, prior to my seeing the “Leaked” 6th Edition ruleset on Scribd: I sorta see advance deploy, deep striking and the like becoming more strategic and less tactical, more like how it works in Apocalypse, when staring at it from the current core rule set. I think what I have been discussing with my buds, our wish list of changes, would be for 40K to have more “free” usable items to really create plays. As it is, there are so many things that 40K offers for games that are too damn risky because the detriments usually crush what little benefit pays out if there is success. When I say risk I mean what seems unfair risk. It is a usability issue disguised as a balance problem. Case in point, Deep Strike. It's almost a joke. So many races are offered it and so few can use it in characterful ways. If a race can't realistically use it without wearing space marine armor or riding a spore into the ground then keep it out of my differences for my points totals and give me something I can use outside of buying yet another model that gives me the board effect I want in Deep Strike, etc.
Then today my boy John sends me the “Leaked” 6th Edition ruleset on Scribd. I’m sure many of you have seen it already and have decided if it is real, has merit, etc. I ate my sandwich and started reading that vehicle damage table since, you know, that's practically part of my IG codex.
Then I read the rest of it. 

Here are some observations from a pedestrian player to his immediate friends at all levels who play, not the homeless tourney hookers. I’m only interested in changes that may bring faster, more conclusive and less slogging play, which better translates to a good story, so I like the following that I see in this leaked, possibly-real document:

1.       Evasion and Patch Up are interesting. More later but I want to say that first.
2.       Airborne, page 47. That is basically jump troops that never have to land and take terrain tests but still benefit from terrain. Finally in the spirit of some models and fluff, dare I say intuitive representation?
3.       Movement, assault and shooting is the turn order now. This I liked when I heard it before but consensus was it seemed to indicate a fan-produced fraud. Still, this seems solid design. Not sure about authenticity either way but I think it has merit when stacked with Evasion, revised Deep Strike, Reserves. More below.
4.       Flyers have rules now as do Agile for large creatures and Eldar Titans. Funny to see them cited in a main rulebook, pg 54 of this leaked thing. Yup, Titans, Flyers and Superheavies are all in this set of main rules, so they are now peeled from Apocalypse and exist in the core rules. This seems right, now that I think of it, since GW just went wild releasing plastic flyers now and superheavy kits over the past year.
5.       Wow, reserves are drastically changed, to the tune of resource management: You have a pool of dice for all units in reserve. You can allocate up to 3 dice to each unit and use those dice for making reserve rolls, in effect choosing who gets better odds of showing up. Pg 137.
6.       Deep Strike has changed. You can deep strike units outside of 18" of an enemy and they just stick the landing? Win. If you try within 18" you do the scatter roll bit. Deep striking units that successfully land 12" away from a unit or close can trigger a Defensive Fire action from that threatened unit. Sweet.
7.       Strategems and fortifications are in this too, which originated from City Fight and Apocalypse.
8.       Weathered Bastion pg 147 sounds exactly like the bastion I built years ago but never finished. Now we have stats for it and it's official, assuming this is all legit. Open top, troop capacity, gun ports, points cost, blah, blah, blah. At last, some fluff on the table outside a Space Marine with new style cape. And I didn't need VDR to have it.
9.       To my Nid player bro John: If Evasion is true, your Nids just became a level of faster we've both been complaining about. Add in how Deep Strike and Reserves works with all the assorted features and I think your army got a HUGE boost.  Think about it this way. According to these rules, you have better say in what happens with reserves. Now, putting things in reserve may not be a last resort but instead a strong first tactical choice… a universal one. Deep strike is way more accurate which is great for flanking your units via Spore or whatever, you can drop stuff right along board edges now with no fear of scattering off the edge... that's more real estate for you to use in a game. But Evasion may help you the most since that is army-wide and free. If it affords you even a bit more protection, it's really good. I do believe Evasion is real, since they put shooting before assaults now. There needs to be another layer to the shooting/hitting dynamic just because of that alone. But with the shift in order of assaults then shooting really may not change my IG army much, it changes Nids a lot more; I see this simple swap of order as just making things more decisive/conclusive: I'll get more shots off in general and that may cack units more solidly but then and you'll close faster and kill quicker. But if all of that is true, it favors your army most, since I still have to shoot the same-sized army, which is now faster, where I am not as much more shooty in the same way... over what I'm betting is a shorter amount of time.
10.   Gotta tell you though, if these are the rules for Flyers then Santa got my letter. I have waited 15 years for these rules, at least between Forge World rules and house rules. The Vulture, Valkyrie/Vendettas will be super fun to use, acting like strafing aircraft and skimmers, evac'ing and acting like they are CAP's, as they should behave. It would be interesting if winged Hive Tyrants, Lords of Change and the like could act as flyers or something.

So, the question stands, until the rulebook comes out. Will next edition be Hug Wolves and smelling people being hugged? Or will it be cat language butchery and insane Kenny Loggins five hole fatalities? I want the latter.