Cabbages and Kings

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.”

Whilst I was typing up my previous post on my visit to Salute this year, a number of things crossed my mind, as I remembered specific conversations and overheard snatches of speech from last Saturday. These thoughts clustered in my mind, and were added to as I perused the various post-Salute posts made on a number of other blogs and noted a trend. This finally crystallised into an idea for a post as I read some of the incisive comments made on the most recent post on the wonderful blog,  The Game Cupboard, which you can find here.

So, it is time to talk of many things…

Firstly, I’ve noted a bit of a trend when it comes to post-Salute reports. I have no problem in reading about your day or looking at the pictures of those demos or gaming boards that caught your eye, because that’s a very personal record of your day. However, do I really need to see a picture of everything you’ve bought? It’s not even as though it’s in context, as in the reason you bought those specific items. It’s just a heap of stuff. What am I supposed to do, congratulate you on your ability to buy things?

My second point relates to the above – the majority of vendors at gaming conventions, no matter what you may think, are NOT your friends. They are there for one reason and one reason only and that’s to convince you to part with your hard-earned cash, the more the better. When you rush up to their booths, with your enthusiasm for their product evident on your face, all they see is an opportunity to get their knife into the slot in the top of the piggy-bank and extract every last possible penny out of it.

Think back to what you bought at Salute – how much of what you bought had you intended to buy? Where you persuaded that if you just bought one more thing from a particular vendor, then it would be an even better deal and then found that you’d spent far more money than you’d anticipated? I heard one particular vendor trying to encourage a potential customer to buy their newest boxed game that he clearly wasn’t that interested in by offering to throw in something he did want as a sweetener.

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Unfortunately, a lot of gamers have what I like to call the ‘Magpie Mentality’, i.e. they cannot resist shiny things. A whiff of a special offer and suddenly all restraint is gone and they’ve bought a new game that they probably had NO intention of buying and will probably be played once, then stacked on a shelf to gather dust. How many times have you bought something with the words “I don’t know what I’ll use it for, but I just had to buy it”? Did you really have to buy it? Or were you overcome by your inner magpie?

The same thing applies to pledging on Kickstarter. Some people seem to have developed ‘Kickstarter fever’ and just cannot seem to resist pledging for the next ‘big thing’. Which, by the time it finally arrives, is now been replaced by the next…and the next…and the next, ad infinitum. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to do this because you’re stinking rich, don’t then boast about how you’ve got so many Kickstarter games that you haven’t even bothered to take them out of their plastic yet, because that just means that not only are you NOT a gamer, but also that you give no consideration to those less fortunate than yourself.

I suppose from a certain perspective this might be considered a bit of a rant, but all I’m trying to do is make people think a bit more. Next time you find yourself in the position where you’ve already started to reach for your wallet or purse…STOP, and ask yourself these questions; Do I really need it? Can I buy it cheaper elsewhere? Is the ‘special offer/deal’ I’m being offered really that good? The majority of the time, by the time you’ve asked and answered these questions, your inner magpie will have subsided somewhat, allowing you to apply rational thought to your potential purchases. You may end up buying it anyway, but do it on YOUR terms, not the vendor’s.

Listen to the crow – not the magpie.

Post-Salute 2017 Thoughts

Having now returned footsore and weary from my second Salute, I thought I’d give a brief round-up of the day.

Last year, as it my was first-ever Salute, I was walking around in a partial daze, as I’d never attended a show as big as this before, so failed to take any photographs on the day. And because I got there around 11am last time, I missed on the extra freebies that the first 5,000 through the door get.

This year I vowed that not only would I get there as close to the opening time as possible, but would also take some photos. However, I didn’t take very many, just things that caught my eye.

Whilst waiting in the queue, I saw Andy of Da Gobbo’s Grotto fame, along with his ‘Nerd Herd’, but rather than interrupt his conversation, I’d thought I’d track him down once we’d been released into the main hall. Unsurprisingly, given his liking for a certain Oriental skirmish game, I found him merrily purchasing more Bushido miniatures at the GCT Studios stand, whilst the vendor stood there with little pound signs in his eyes.

I then collared him and introduced myself and had a nice long natter, in which I was introduced to the rest of the ‘Nerd Herd’ as well. The reason I did this first, rather than just rushing off to buy things, was so that Andy would have a ‘face’ to recognise at the 1pm ‘bloggers meet’, rather than standing there like he was waiting for a blind date – carnation in buttonhole and copy of the Financial Times optional.

We then went our separate ways and I started to have a good look around. The first port of call was the Warlord Games stand, as I had speculated that their first Doctor Who boxed game would be released at Salute and this was indeed the case. Here it is on their display stand:

The game features a force of Time War Daleks against the most recent version of the Cybermen, from the 12th Doctor episode ‘Nightmare in Silver’. For your £35.00 you get a dozen plastic Daleks in gold and approximately the same number of Cybermen in silver. The Cybermen sprues also come with Cybermats on them. Having handled the sprues, the detailing is pretty good, although I’m not overly keen on this particular model of Cyberman.

You also get a double-sided printed paper mat, pre-printed cards and dice. And probably some other stuff as well, but I didn’t memorise the entire contents. As I was only really interested in the Daleks and whether they would be compatible with my existing Black Tree and DWA Daleks, I didn’t buy the game, but from my estimations, if I choose not to base the Warlord Daleks, I think they’ll be fine to use with 28mm miniatures.

I then popped over to the Crooked Dice stall to say hello to Karl and pick up my pre-orders. He looked a little bit shell-shocked already and this was only about an hour in!

I then discovered that one of the vendors I was sure I’d read was attending, wasn’t actually there. As my ‘Salute shopping list’ had several items from this vendor on it, I found myself without the said items and with ‘spare’ cash. So I went shopping…

My first purchase was a new release from Renedhra Ltd, who make injection-molded gaming terrain and bases. They have just released some wrought-iron fencing with a brick base and gates – in fact they’re so new they’re not even on the website yet!

So, for £10.00, you get two sprues with four lengths of fencing 85mm long and a single brick column that the gate attaches to. So, that’s two gates, two columns and eight lengths of fencing molded in hard grey plastic. As you can see from the picture, each length has a post at one end, so it looks like a proper fence. Ideal for surrounding a graveyard or public park or maybe even a pumpkin patch. They also do a pack without the gate, so if you need to fence off a larger area, get one of these as well. Or just have two gates.

I then decided to take some photos, and I’ll give as much detail as I can recall regarding each one.

First up is a couple of photos of a rather nice Jurassic Park table, complete with the iconic gate;

Various dinosaurs were running about, chasing die-cast jeeps. Most of the Dinosaur models were from Shleich, which although not cheap, are pre-painted plastic so can be used straight away. (On a related note, if you want a ‘giant’ ape, rather than forking out for resin one from a games company, buy one of Shleich’s gorillas – it’s about 80mm tall and only about £6.50).

And here’s the velociraptor pen. A good use of teddy bear fur for the grass and a lovely table.

Next up was this beautiful table:

I initially thought this was for Greek Mythology inspired game, but it turns out it was for a fantasy game called “Darklands”.  Shame, as it could have done with some Greek heroes, maybe some harpies and a big stompy bronze statue. But still, it was a nicely modeled table

Next up was this board:

This was one of the demonstration boards for GCT Studios Bushido game and whilst a game wasn’t being played on it, it was so eye-catching, I just had to take a photo.

Staying with the Oriental theme, we have this:

This was Oshiro Model Terrain‘s participation game, which I believe was called “Storming the Castle”. It had the above Japanese town utilising Oshiro’s resin terrain, with docks and a moat, on the other side of which was this:

Just to give you an idea of scale, yes, those are 28mm miniatures. Whilst I was ogling the castle, one of the chaps came over and showed me that the castle itself was modular, with fully detailed interiors, built by the chap who runs the company. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Checking the time, I realised that I would just have enough time to get some lunch before the 1pm ‘bloggers meet’. I duly turned up just before one at what I hope was the right place, and was soon joined by the impeccably dressed Michael Awdry of 28mm Victorian Warfare, followed by Andy, and finally Simon Moore aka Blaxkleric of Fantorical. After introductions were made for those who hadn’t yet met one another, we had a nice long natter, before someone decided that a group shot of all the bloggers should be taken. Not sure who took the photos or where they’ll end up, but someone, somewhere has photographic evidence that I do actually exist.

I then bullied Simon, Andy and Michael into posing for a picture for me, primarily for the readers of this blog who were not able to attend:

So, from left to right we have Simon Moore, Andy Nash and Micahel Awdry. Obviously, Andy didn’t get the memo about wearing a waistcoat.

I then returned to one of the stalls where I’d earlier spotted some interesting and inexpensive figures, but was not able to get close enough due to some very rude Germans, and picked up a 28mm plastic Ogre in a wrestling suit with an Afro – because I needed him – for just £1.00! Bargain. I also spotted a couple more figures that would make extremely suitable and ideal gifts for someone, so bought them too.

My day at Salute finished with me being patted on the shoulder in passing by someone dressed in an extremely convincing Chewbacca costume, so I left with a big grin on my face.

Really fun day and can’t wait for next year.

United Colours of…Dalek

Regular visitors will have noted that things have been a little quiet here at the Buffet…

Unfortunately, various external factors have conspired against me, resulting in very little time to spend on hobby-related pursuits. In fact, the only painting I’ve done up until very recently was my fence, which is now ‘Forest Green’ in its entirety, including the parts that were replaced when the weather kindly decided to knock it down.

However, now that tedious and arduous task has been completed, I have returned to my painting queue and as a certain batch of militaristic war-machines were stridently clamouring for attention, I thought it best to focus on them.

When we last saw my Daleks, they had just been assembled and based (go here for a reminder).

So, first up is the ‘New Paradigm’ Daleks, which explains the title of this post;

Colourful bunch, aren’t they? So, I’ve given each a base coat of the relevant primary colour, then painted in the bumpers and neck grills in black. The plunger arms, guns and eyestalks have also all been given an initial coat of GW Chaimail. The two ‘Drones’ on the far right are supposed to be the same colour, i.e. red, but as both were a slightly different shade of red plastic, one looks a bit more orange-y than the other. I also think that the blue Strategist Dalek may be a bit too dark a blue and the yellow Eternal Dalek is not quite the right shade of yellow.

I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the level of detail on these cheap plastic toys, although it’s clear that different molds were used for different Daleks, as the detail is not as crisp on some of them compared to others.

Next up, my ‘specialist’ Daleks;

The one on the left is the Special Weapons Dalek, who has been given a coat of gloss white and an undercoat of bronze on its bumper, central gun housing and head. Checking my references, this actually needs to be a dirty gold colour, so these parts will be repainted with an elderly pot of GW Shining Gold, then dirtied up a bit.

The one on the right is a plastic GW engineer Dalek, which I decided to give the livery of the most recent ‘classic’ model Daleks, i.e. silver and light blue. The shoulder slats need repainting silver and the bumper in black, but I like how this colour scheme differentiates it from my normal Daleks, which currently look like this;

That’s right, I decided to go for the classic grey and black colour scheme! However, as I wanted to replicate the shiny grey of this type of Dalek, I used a pot of Humbrol Satin Enamel. Whilst it does give the finish I wanted, I forgot that this type of paint takes absolutely ages to dry, so wasn’t able to do much more than this, annoyingly.

That’s all for this week. As Salute is mere days away, the next post will be a post-Salute round-up, similar to last year’s. However, this year I intend on taking at least some photos, so won’t have to scour the Internet for suitable proxy images of my fellow bloggers. You have been warned…

Day of the Master

The Master was not amused. Whilst en route to the scene of his next dastardly plot, a disruption in the Time Vortex has forced his TARDIS to materialise elsewhere. The TARDIS scanners have similarly been effected and the Master was forced to venture outside to discover where he was. Having noted that the chameleon circuit had reverted to the standard ‘factory setting’ on his TARDIS, the Master exited the structure he found himself in and was confronted by a red post box. 

Realising that he was on Earth, the Master decided to find a nearby newsagent to find out WHEN he was. Using his hypnotic powers, he deprived the newsagent of his will, a copy of the Times and several Mars bars – nefarious plotting always left him feeling a bit peckish.

Checking the banner, he noted that it was 1st April 1977. “How ironic,” he murmured, then folding the newspaper, he returned to the abandoned warehouse to continue his journey. 

However, the disruptions in the Time Vortex had continued and stranded four Cybermen, including a Cyber Controller, in the area. Drawn by the Artron energy generated by the TARDIS, the Cyber Controller is aware that a Timelord is in the vicinity and is planning on capturing him or her when they return, so that his troops can be transported back from whence they came.

Whilst armed with his Tissue Compression Eliminator, the Master realised he was ‘outgunned’, as his hypnotic powers would have no effect on the silver menace. However, as there was a nearby UNIT base and they were used to dealing with alien intruders, he decided to ‘recruit’ some help.

After all, he WAS the Master and they WOULD obey him…

Welcome to my first Doctor Who AAR, for which I used my own rules system, known as Way of the Crow. As the actual AAR would be far to long if I explained the entire rules as I went along, I will refer you all to the previous posts which detailed these rules, here, here and here. 

As this is a pretty straight-forward skirmish between the forces of UNIT and the Cybermen, the basic rules linked above are all you really need to know before reading the AAR, with a few exceptions, which will be noted as we go along.

So, the playing area was set up as follows:

So, 2′ square Mars Attacks Deluxe T-Junction mat for the base, with the abandoned warehouse containing the Master’s TARDIS and the Cybermen in the top left corner, with a van parked alongside and a post box on the corner.

On the other side of the road is the local branch of “Cupid Burgers”, purveyors of meat in a bun. And in the bottom half of the mat is ‘Rocket Comics’, next to which UNIT have deployed with “Colonel Masters”, having arrived in their black Landrover moments before.

And here are UNIT, all ready to investigate and eliminate the alien threat, with “Colonel Masters” leading…from the rear:

So, let’s take a look at their stats:

Unit Soldier – V4 A4 W4 Aw4 S3 – H8 #2 P8 – Abilities: Marksmanship +2, Rifle (V5/R10), Grenade x1 (V8/A2) – Cost: 52

So, above average in Vigour, Agility, Will and Awareness, a pretty good Stealth score and each soldier has 8 Health and 2 Actions each. Armed with Rifles with a Range of 10″ and the +2 Marksmanship means they know which end to point at the baddies. Each soldier also has a single Grenade, the range of which is based on the Vigour of the thrower, does base damage of 8 Vigour and has an Area of Effect of 2″.

The Master – V3 A4 W6 Aw5 S3 – H6 #2 P12 – Abilities: Bamboozle +3, Devise +3, Dominate +4, Leadership 3, Tissue Compression Eliminator (V10/R2) – Cost: 84

Whilst the Master has several Abilities over and above ‘standard’ troops, which explains his high cost, both Bamboozle and Devise weren’t used during the game. As the UNIT soldiers had been ‘Dominated’ prior to the start of the game, they were under the Master’s control. However, as soon as they were out of Line of Sight of the Master, there was a chance they could shake of his hypnosis and turn on him. But the Master does like to take risks, after all.

Leadership is a new Ability – a character can expend 1 of their Actions to activate up to their Leadership score of ‘friendly’ troops, effectively circumventing the usual Initiative rules and taking their turns immediately. As the Master has a Leadership of 3, he can activate 3 UNIT soldiers for each Action he uses. As there are 5 UNIT soldiers, this means if he wants to activate all five, he won’t have any Actions left to do anything himself.

The total cost of the Master and the 5 UNIT soldiers is 344 points.

And here are their cybernetic foes:

Cyberman – V6 A3 W8 Aw3 S0 – H15 #2 P16 – Abilities: Armour +1, Cybergun (V5/R10), Tough +3 – Cost: 65

So, the Cybermen have enhanced Vigour, normal Agility and Awareness, a really high Will (because they’re robots), but no Stealth. Additionally they are armed with Cyberguns and are lightly Armoured. The new ability here is ‘Tough’. For every point of Tough a character has, they add 1 additional point of Health. So whilst the Cybermen have a standard Health of twice their Vigour (i.e. 12), Tough +3 takes this up to a staggering 15!

Cyber Controller – V6 A3 W8 Aw5 S0 – H15 #2 P16 – Abilities: Armour +1, Cybergun (V5/R10), Tough +3, Leadership 5 – Cost: 130

Other than a slightly higher Awareness and a leadership score of 5, the Cyber Controller has the same stat line as the normal Cybermen.

The total cost of the Cyber faction, 3 standard Cybermen and 1 Cyber Controller is 325 points, 19 less than the UNIT faction. However, as the UNIT soldiers may turn on the Master at any point, I thought that this was relatively ‘even’.

Let the game begin…

On Turn 1, UNIT won the Initiative and the Master decided to use both his Actions to activate all 5 UNIT soldiers, who quick-marched across the street, intending to go through the restaurant and approach the warehouse from the rear.

“Go forth, my disposable minions…”

However, as I decided that unless the Cyberman stationed at the bottom right of the warehouse noticed the soldiers moving about (an Awareness vs Stealth roll), the Cybermen wouldn’t notice the solders and would do nothing. The Cyberman failed, so we moved on to…

Turn 2 – UNIT won Initiative again, and the Master used his two Actions to activate and move the UNIT soldiers. The first squad of three advanced through the restaurant towards the back door, whilst the two man squad crossed the road and entered the reataurant. However, this took all the soldiers out of Line of Sight of the Master, which meant that next Turn, they would be able to try to shake off his hypnosis.

Once again the Cybermen failed to notice the stealthy soldiers, so just stood around doing nothing.

Turn 3 – As the soldiers could no longer see the Master, they rolled their Will of 4 plus a d10, against his Will of 6 +4 for Dominate plus a d10. Unsurprisingly, they all remained under his control this turn.

UNIT won Initiative again and the Master moved the three man squad out the back door and started them across the road. The two man squad took up sniping positions in the window.

The Cybermen finally noticed something was going on and the Cyber Controller used his first Action to activate all three Cybermen. The first expended it  first Action opening the main doors of the warehouse, then moved. The second moved out of the front of the warehouse and took up position behind the van. The third burst out of the rear door of the warehouse and fired upon the leading UNIT soldier! Luckily, the Cyberman’s Agility of 3 plus its roll of 7 was not enough to beat the UNIT soldier’s Agility of 4 and roll of 10, so it was a miss.

However, the Cyber Controller then used his second Action to activate all three Cybermen again. The Cyberman who’d fired last turn fired again on its first Action, with a combined attack roll of 10 versus the UNIT soldier’s defence roll of 9, so a +1 modifier to the damage of the Cybergun (V5) meaning 6 points of damage, reduced to 2 after the UNIT soldier’s Vigour of 4 soaked the first 4 points. First blood to the silver menace! However, he then rolled a natural 1, meaning his gun had jammed. The Cyberman behind the van moved out and fired at the same soldier, hitting for 4 actual damage, taking the lead soldier down to 2 remaining Health points. The final Cyberman moved twice along the front of the warehouse to join the battle.

Turn 4 – Once again the UNIT troops made a Will role, with two succeeding! Ooops! The Master was in trouble now – as soon as the troops took care of the Cybermen shooting at them…

The Cybermen won Initiative finally! The Cyber Controller activated the three Cybermen again and the lead Cyberman used its first Action to unjam its gun, then fired once more, scoring a total of 1 point of actual damage, meaning the UNIT soldier was now down to its final Health point. The second Cybermen fired twice, hitting with its first shot and killing the lead Unit soldier. Its second shot missed. The final Cyberman moved out into the open and fired upon the second UNIT soldier, scoring a hit with 2 points of actual damage.

Then the Cyber Controller used its second Action to activate them again! The first Cyberman shot twice, scoring 2 points of damage on the first and missing on the second, The second Cyberman missed with both shots and the third Cyberman hit twice, killing the second UNIT soldier! This meant that both un-hypnotised soldiers were dead – luckily for the Master.

Two UNIT soldiers down and not a scratch on the Cybermen – things were not looking good.

As there were only three UNIT soldiers left, the Master used his first Action to activate them all. The UNIT soldier in the open used its first Action to throw its grenade, which was on target and exploded. The total modifier was +7, added to the damage of 8, meant 15 points of potential damage, reduced to 7 after the deduction of the Cyberman’s Vigour of 6 and the +1 for its armour. The Cyberman was still going! So the UNIT soldier ran away… and was now out of range *phew*

The two remaining UNIT soldiers opened fire from their partially hidden position in the restaurant, concentrating their fire on nearest Cyberman. The first soldier fired twice, scoring hits and damaging the Cyberman enough so that the second soldier’s first hit took him down! The second shot was fired at the next nearest Cyberman, hitting and damaging it and making it aware of where they were hiding.

The Master used his final action to advance towards the Landrover, as he wanted to be in a position to get to his TARDIS, once the Cybermen were distracted enough.

Turn 5 saw the remaining UNIT soldiers remaining under the hypnotic control of the Master, but the Cyber faction winning Initiative once more. The Cyber Controller activated the remaining two Cybermen, the first of which chased down the remaining UNIT soldier in the opened fire, scoring more damage. The other Cyberman moved along the road towards the front door of the restaurant, intending to enter and attack the two hidden soldiers, completely failing to notice the Master skulking behind the Landrover.

The Cyber Controller then used its second Action to activate both Cybermen again. The first shot twice at the remaining soldier in the open, missing the first time but managing to kill him on the second. The second Cyberman moved into the restaurant, and opened firs, scoring 4 points of actual damage on the nearest UNIT soldier.

The Master used his first Action to Activate the two UNIT soldiers, who both backed away from the Cyberman and then both grenaded him, blowing him up! Yay! Go UNIT!

The Master then used his final Action to scurry towards the warehouse, judging that the final Cyberman was too far away to shoot at him and the Cyber Controller he could deal with without any help.

Turn 6 saw both UNIT soldiers remaining under the Master’s control, but the Cyber faction winning Initiative, with both remaining Cybermen stalking closer to the Master.

The Master used one Action to activate the remaining two UNIT soldiers, moved them back to the window and firing on the last remaining standard Cyberman marching down the road towards him. Both scored hits and damaged it, but it still kept coming. The Master used his final Action to duck behind the postbox, figuring a large red hunk of metal might save him from getting shot.

Turn 7 saw UNIT still remain under the Master’s control and the Cyber faction winning Initiative once more. It was now getting rather tense.

The Cyber Controller moved forward into range and opened fire, but because the Master was in partial cover, due to being behind the post box, failed to hit him. The remaining standard Cyberman opened fire on the two UNIT soldiers in the restaurant, but also because of the partial cover rule, failed to hit anything other than the building!

Sensing victory and having a short-ranged weapon, the Master stepped out from behind the post box, strode forward whilst pulling out his TCE and fired upon the Cyber Controller. However, whilst he score a massive 12 points of actual damage, the Cyber Controller was still on its feet!

The eighth and final Turn…and it was all down to who won the Initiative. The dice were rolled and…the Master won! Using his both his Actions on movement, he sprinted the final 8 ” and ended his turn in base-to-base contact with his TARDIS. Victory was his!

“Curse you, Timelord!”

Whilst it had been quite tense near the end, the Master never really doubted that he would get away. Stepping through the doors of his TARDIS, he failed to see the figure in the shadows, who quickly struck him down from behind. As he lost consciousness, he heard a familiar voice say “No, don’t kill him – I need him alive….”

Roll credits…

And there we go. It was a fun game, which probably would have gone quicker if I hadn’t been making notes and taking pictures as I went along. The game was pretty straight-forward, without the Master having an opportunity to use his Bamboozle or Devise skills, but did get pretty tense near the end, as I wasn’t entirely sure who was going to win. Luckily, the Master managed to pull it out of the bag right at the end, having bravely sacrificed three members of UNIT.

That’s all for this instalment. The next couple of posts will probably feature the next set of figures for the second adventure, which WILL actually feature the Doctor this time and is likely to be set in a quarry on an alien planet.

Thanks for reading.