Black Plague- Runners

The third type of basic zombies in the Black Plague game are runners. Their name is self explanatory to a large degree. There are a whole pile of them and they move twice vs. the once of normal zombies and fatties. So although not as numerous as the normal zombies they are more of a threat. Also added to this their speed makes them harder to hit at range, meaning that you have to kill normal zombies and fatties in a zone before starting to target them. You can see all my painted 18 models below.  As normal, I’ll do the front and back of the particular models. Again there ware only a couple of poses – this is a board game after all, but to be honest companies such as Privateer Press are know to do that for their units, so it’s not a massive shock in the lack of variety. You can see the grey skin colour and the ‘blood splatter’. I assumed that as these guys were more deadly there was more chance of them have blood splatter on them.Overall, I also made their eye’s red like all my Zombies but some have much brighter eye than others. That was me trying different styles. I must admit looking at them now the I prefer the deep black with just a little red in the center. I thought about trying to finish the bases with a specific tiling effect but decided instead to leave them grey. That actually makes them more generic and useful for other projects. I can see these being used for Zombies in a Necormunda/Sci-fi big game for example. A gang fight in a Zombie plague or other future games.  The models have a weird look for that but many movies and TV shows use old style costumes so they will work well for this.Each of the models has a unique combination of colours, but stay in the overall theme which I used for the zombies. This was as much more my own sanity as for anything else. Too many models which are exactly the same does not a fun paint job.I must admit that the different styles of zombies really does help add to the Zombicide game and give a bit more of a challenge to the games. As each type of zombie makes for an extra risk and danger when playing the game. So there we are another lot of zombies shown off. I hope you like them. We had another game of Zombicide Black Plague this week and as normal it was fun. Whether 2 players of 6 I still find it fun and challenging. One of the best co-op board games out there which I have played so far.

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Black Plague – more walker zombies

So time to show the rest of the Zombies for Black Plague. Again these pictures are not great but I wanted to show them, as I do all my projects.  Here are another 20 zombies for the Black Plague game. Some of these came with the Kickstarter add on items but they are the same as the core game. You can see them all below.  So to these zombies are done in the same style as the others I have already shown. All browns, greens, with an occasional other colours. I must admit the suspender wearing Zombie lady did make me smile but are not politically correct…For standard board game models they actually paint up well. I was quite surprised at that. I have had challenges painting some of the models from games such as Mantic’s deadzone due to the lack of raised detail/relief in the models but did not have such a problem with these.The collection of figures is not bad really and I like how they have come out in the end. I did my usual double coat of varnish for board game models – first with Future floor polish and then a matt varnish to dull that down. This seems to allow the paint result to hold up well to game play.The basic grey bases are still a little plain. I did not do dripping/trailing blood on them but thought about it. I could try doing a paving pattern but that might actually take away from the end result so decided in the end not to do that.img_6052So there we are. All the normal Zombies from Zombicide Black Plague. Not the most thrilling subject I know but important to have all these for the game.

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Chain of Command – Initial thoughts

Last week I ran a couple of games of Chain of Command for the local group. This was the first game for many of them, but one other had played a time or two before (like myself). Most had the rules though and had read them, so that really helped as well. In the end there were 4 people playing, with me helping with rules and acting as GM/rules advisor for the games. We also had a couple of onlookers/interested parties as well. I know a few people also could not attend so it seem like we have a decent quorum of people interested in the game.

So I thought I would write up a few comments and put some  pictures up about the games that we played. This will also include my first thoughts on the rules, especially after some time playing other games (battlegroup in particular). Note, I game WW2 in 15mm. So the tables do not look as great as they would with 28mm figs, but the figure to table and scenery scale are much better – which IMO makes for better games over all.The games mostly used my figures and all my terrain. You can play Chain of Command in 15mm or 28mm but I game ww2 in 15mm. Also, I have to say that 15mm gives the ’empty battlefield’ effect much better than 28mm, although as mentioned previously 28mm is great for eye candy.

So, the first game going was set on the ‘Prussian front’ with a few scattered buildings and a smattering of tall wheat fields as well as so light woods/rough ground on the table. The forces (for both games) were from the main book, with nothing more than a minimum support elements. It was also a simple meeting engagement scenario. That was to allow the players get used to the game and focusing on the mechanics and getting used to how it plays. Note, one things with the CoC force building is it is possible to create bad matchup’s for scenario’s – for example one side having tanks while the other has no armour killing at all. So rather than risk this I created the forces and scenario, which I think is very typical for CoC games anyway.In the first game the patrol phase went quite smoothly, with the Germans setting up just behind the small collection of buildings. Overall, the patrol phase is something people take a little getting used. It definitely effects the later game. It controls where players can bring on their forces. It’s a real addition to my mind in comparison to the usual start in deployment zones close to the table. The mechanism of bringing on forces close to those jump of points and those being enemy objectives adds a real different feel to the games.

In this game, after the jump off markers were down the first turn went to the Russian who cautiously brought on some of their force. The Germans were blessed with a lucky roll though and a double phase as they brought on most of their forces in their next activation. It was an interesting tactic, especially as they split the forces up and had troops come in at each jump off location. As mentioned this ability to somewhat control when and where you troops hit the table makes for an cool mechanic. It adds to the control effect of the game as well as more decision points. At the same point it does make the game feel more platoon level. Squad tactics, move and fire etc all play a part in CoC games, much more so than in many other games of this style I find. By this time the other table was being set up and I jumped over to that, as the players on that table had never played CoC before. This again was identical forces as the other table but this time with my my 17th Cent buildings and church being used. As my official jump off points were in use on the other table, I decided to use T-34 tank hulls as the jump of points in the game. Obviously, the infantry were fighting over a previously fought tank engagement!

The Russians worked hard in the patrol phase to get close to the church and their jump off points were all around that as it turned out. The Germans had tried an outflanking them but had not quite pulled it off in the patrol phase. This meant that in the first turns the Russians could set up their one extra unit- a HMG with 5 crew right in the top of the church clock tower!  Each Russian platoon got one of these to balance the force levels as the German late Platoons are a little more powerful than the Russians. This became the dominant move of the game really, as the Germans set up in the woods surrounding the church and for much of the earlier game exchanged fire with that HMG. The HMG was backed up by the Russian senior leader who was busy removing shock from them to keep them as an effective force.

The German focus on this ‘hard point’ definitely allowed the Russians to dictate the flow of the game. I also made the terrain too hard on the table – with very deep/thick woods and high fences which limited movement and visibility for troops on the ground . This gave this Church steeple vantage point even more significance. A lesson learnt for me as a scenario creator there.  A Russian section moved up to one of the high fences around the church to engage with the German section on this flank. They moved up the the hedge in anticipation of removing some of pressure from the HMG in the church tower. In the end this did not work out well for them and they were beaten back with a lot of shock.  They were lucky really that there were not more killed vs. just having  huge number of shock.

Again the terrain really stopped the Germans finishing this section. The size of the Russian units helps them survive as well because they had enough leaders around to hep rally off some of that shock over the next few phases.  On the other flank the other German section there decided the use the cover from the HMG  provided by the woods to move closer. By this time the HMG crew were starting to look few on the ground but there were still 2 able to operate the gun. They were also giving casualties and shock to the primary german section engaging them, who are shown in the closest woods at the bottom of the picture below.

To counter this the Russian other sections now started to show up on the table. They countered the flanking move of those Germans. The last Russian section was put on the table and moved inside the main boy of the church,. These two were tasked with engaging the Germans on that flank. Because of this the Germans headed into the woods near the church and set up a defensive position.Swapping back to the other table, for a minute, on that one the Germans had taken the initiative and attacked. I got a brief summary from the guys who described that the Germans had attacked the Russians in the wheat fields. Unfortunately, although putting a decent amount of shock on the Russian HMG it had still been enough. The rifle sections had seen off the German attack. So the Germans were down to a few morale points on that table and it looked like things were not going to end well for them. In the end it did not and they were beaten due to their aggressive attacking.Back on the church table, the Russians had a nice central secure position around the church. The HMG crew had finally broken and run from the church tower. An end of turn was triggered soon after that which saw them leave the table for good.

The Russian section in the woods close assaulted the Germans and learnt just how deadly that can be – with mutual destruction being the result. The Germans saw the writing on the wall with this though. So to see what the result was they assaulted the now recovering infantry section in the church yard. You can see them at the bottom of the picture below. Again this resulting in lot of death on both sides. But in the case the Russians held on and won the combat. At this point the Germans had just their Platoon senior leader, plus a Panzerfaust team and junior leader left, so conceded the game.So overall we had a fun set of games. I think all the players enjoyed the games and there were definite comments of wanting to play again.

As for thoughts on the rules. I thought it easier to put this in bullet form to make the points easier to read.

  • These are ‘adult’ mainly scenario style rules for Infantry Platoon level fights.  Rules for having several platoons on the table but still, this is a very specific scale and type of fight. So those coming from say Flames of war or Battlegroup will be surprised about the space vs. figures on the table. It’s more realistic but looks different to many game of toy soldiers out there.
  • At times there are items which require rules checking (as well as in FAQ & Errata) and common sense for understanding the rules is requires as in all the TFL rules. These rules are not exceptions to that principle. So you have to have common sense to play these rules. Players with a rules lawyer attitude are not going to end up creating a fun time for anyone.
  • The patrol section for setting up jump off points, and the bringing on troops as you want them makes this a unique set of rules and I really like that aspect.
  • Combat, whether hand to hand or shooting can be quite die heavy. This should over time balance things out, BUT in the short term can make for large swings of luck. Just something to be aware of and in many ways I guess that can reflect the reality of combat.
  • The roll for what you can do is an element I like in the game and makes you think and work on tactics. It’s much more limiting in some ways that it initially seems when reading the rules.
  • Weapons having realistic ranges and the random moves of troops means you have to plan in a different way for the games. It means mutual support of troops is very important. As I mentioned to the players, typical 40k tactics will get you killed real quick in this game.
  • Following on from that, the scale of the game means that modern/ww2 infantry tactics really work. This means the Soviets can be the easiest force to use for beginners. Their large sections and small number of command units means they are easy to control, vs the german or Brits etc. However the later can do fire and move tactics but have smaller teams to support this. This does take a little getting used to though.
  • As mentioned somewhat balanced support options are required. Tanks vs no tank killers or off bard art vs. a close up deployment can make for non fun games (again may be realistic though.

Overall,  have to say I really like Chain of Command. They feel more realistic and have real life style tactics vs. very game specific ones. But the more life like nature of the game and unusual command elements do make them a little harder to get into than something like Bolt Action. Overall though I think this is definitely worth the pain though, as the end result is a much more ‘historical’ feeling game. So this definitely will get more play time for me and if you want real platoon gaming I’d give it a try.  The closet game to it is really Bolt Action which I enjoy as well but feels much more like a game with short ranges and predictable moves for troops. I’ll play both but the two games have a very different feel overall.

Posted in 15mm, After Action Report, Review, World War 2 | 2 Comments

Black Plague – Fatties

I showed some ‘Walker Zombies’ from Black Plague a few posts ago.  So here I include all the fatties which I have. It may not be politically correct name, but that’s what they are called in the game. They are tougher zombies and it takes a bigger weapon to kill them. Normally, most player characters have to find such a weapon, so the time is ticking for players to ‘tool up’ by searching so they can deal with these nasties.

With the kickstarter I have a total of 17 of these big guys guys. Unfortunately there are is only a couple poses for these Zombies guys so I varied the colours and blood splashes on the models. However, I still wanted to keep them in the same color palette that I have been using.img_6059You can see the front and back of the models here as well.  I tried to limit the number of shots of them so they may be a little small but I think the photo’s still work.img_6060The colours are all like I have done all the zombies – grey skins with browns and greens as the main colours. There is an occasional different colour but I have kept them fairly plain and washed out as you can hopefully see. It may not be clear but I did all their tongues purple – an after effect of the plague maybe. I also have done all the zombies with red eyes.img_6057Overall, these came out quite well. I thought about doing all the zombies in a black and white style – like one of the really good painters in the local area has done, but decided against that. Partly as I think I would fail in comparison to his excellent version and partly as these will work better with other models.img_6058Talking of that the reason for the grey skin in simply that with ‘Green Horde’ – a second game of Zombicide in this era is coming. I knew that I would be doing lots of green zombie orcs for hat, so the humans needed to be green to different from them!img_6055I still had a little of the brightness challenge in these photos but I hope they are ok. I really need to get a better photo location set up – especially for these bigger models.img_6056So there we are. I posted a summary of the game a couple of weeks ago and will continue to show the finished models. I like how they have come out well for a board game models. Having them painted makes such a difference for me in playing the game.

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8th Army – Mortars and extra stuff

So after some Zombies it’s time to show the last of my 8th army figures for a little while. Here are a small selection of toys which I found/bought after I started the project as I found that I needed a few extra toys to make valid lists. First are 3″ mortars. All the foot troops are from Peter Pig. The mortars are a pretty standard item for the British and were used for close support as well as dropping smoke for advancements. Simple, nice models which work well with the force that I have. They will be useful for any game of company level or so.img_5495The second item are a couple of 2″ mortars. Again a very standard item for the British and I did get some in the standard packs but these are Peter Pig ones and nice and clear/easy for identification on the table.  These are great for smaller scale games such as Chain of Command, as each platoon at the time had a 2″ mortar for local smoke and HE supportimg_5494Next we have some Peter Pig engineers and a couple more this time mobile 2″ mortar crews – this time moving, The moving team is much harder to identify on the table but are good for extra troops if nothing else.As you can see they have been painted the same of the other figures in my force and these will be useful for various reasons. The engineers at least will also be useful for specialist roles in some scenario’s. The figures are nicer (cleaner cults and more detailed faces) than the battlefront Flames of War ones which I have used, but fit in very well with them as well.Lastly, I found another Matilda 2 tanks which I had missed painting! So I had to paint that an include this in the force. This one is another Zvezda model kit so not expensive. The only issue with these kits is that it’s not easy to spin or remove the turret, as that is a close fit, but for the price it’s hard to go wrong with the kit really.  Having an extra one of these gives me a little extra flexibility. Although not the best tank they at least provide some heavy support to the foot troops. Again this is done to match the other tanks in the force. These have already have seen the table in a Battlegroup game but I want to try them with other rules as well – Chain of Command and ‘I ain’t been shot yet mum’ are the two which I am focused on at present.

Posted in 15mm, World War 2 | 2 Comments

Black Plague – A quick review

So after last weeks post, I thought I would write a little review of Black Plague and show a few pictures of the painted models in action. Basically, like all Zombicide games (there are a few out there now and more coming) the basic premise is that all the players work together (co-operatively) against the game to win. Thus, everyone wins or no one does. The rules work for any sized groups and can even be played solo without any issue. The setting is ‘fantasy medieval’ and the concept is a black plague (yes get the name) has been set loose by some Necromancers. This has infected most of the people and made them into Zombies. To win the game scenario you have to do various missions aiming to survive or defeat the necromancers.

The game a heart is quite basic. There are the heroes (6 or more) characters an they have to often get objectives – the red X counters as shown below. There are about 10 scenarios in the base game and more official ones on the manufactures site. There are loads of fan made ones as well. It’s fairly easy to create your own as well.

The game mechanisms are fairly simple really. Every hero gets a turn to move and perform 3 actions, at the start. That can be to move, attack (with ranged or melee weapons) if they have them, shout/make noise, search a building(which they can can only be done once per turn, trade with other heroes in the same area, or cast spells.  At the end of the turn the first player rotates around the characters.img_6230After all the heroes move, the baddies get to action – which is to move towards the closest hero visible or if not the most noise – thus the reason to make noise at times. Zombies move one square normally but there are some ‘runners’ who get two action per activation. After that the zombie spawn points (seen above in the bottom right of the picture), each get a card draw for them to see how many and what type of zombies come on there.

In Black Plague you can also spawn Necromancers from these cards, as seen in purple below. They create more spawn points. They also move and take one action but rather than going for the heroes they run for the closest spawn point to exit the board. If they exit then their additional spawn point becomes permanent.  Killing a necromancer allows a spawn point to be removed. If a necromancer escapes when there are 6 spawn points on the table the game is automatically lost.img_6229The other way of generating zombies is to open doors into rooms. When this is done you draw a card for each room in the building that the door was opened to. So at the start there are few monsters on the table but as you start opening doors and searching for objectives and items you find more zombies and they just keep appearing on the board. img_6228Now to add interest to the game you keep track of the number of kills each character makes. This is like a very basic D&D etc As you kill more things you go up in levels. Each character has different skills they get as they go up in the levels. So this makes each character unique. Thus the reason for the different characters.

Added to that though, the zombies spawn at the level of the highest character, so there is an inbuilt escalation mechanism in the game. As you do more, you encounter more zombies and kill them. That gains you more experience and skills but also increases the number of zombies around…img_6227Weapons, spells and equipment are all done through cards – you start with some basic items and have to search rooms to fine better ones (or an occasional Zombie). All characters can use anything (spells , bows etc.) but some of their skills make them better after different things. The specifics for the effects are all shown on the cards – range, number of D6 to roll, the damage done and any special effects.

Heroes have a few hits – which can be saved if they find the right armour etc and zombies either die or don’t. You need to do enough damage to them in one strike to kill them. But a swarm of Zombies kills a hero pretty quickly so care has to be taken as no hero is invulnerable.img_6226There are some specific rules for big baddies – like the one above who in the standard game can only be killed by collecting specific items and combining them. This means you can’t just kill everything without some tactics and planning, It also adds to the escalation concept in the game.

One of the challenges with this escalation is that some of the later activation cards allow specific types of zombies to have double move.Added to that, if you run out of a particular type of model when spawning zombies, then all the models on the board of that type get an extra activation. This often ends the game for us – in a loss. img_6225So although overall the game is not massively complex rules wise, it requires some planning and thinking to win. The rules say 14+ I would think most kids who are used to gaming will be able to play if a few years under that age, as long as parents etc were also playing. But the tactical aspects and planning becomes a little deeper.

But during the course of this game it is challenging. If you like to always win then this game may not be for you. We as a group loose at least as much as we win in the games. We likely loose 2 for everyone one we win. It’s no cakewalk to victory. I actually really like this about the game and it says something that we all enjoy if just as much whether we win or lose.img_6224Deciding when to open rooms, when to split the party and when to stay together, and who is best for what actions are all part of the discussion around the table. You can predict zombie moves to an extent but not completely, and the randomness of the combat mechanism, based on D6 rolls means there is no sure thing.img_6223So, the pictures here are from a game this week, actually the second game of the night. Three of us played, so we took 2 hero characters each. Between 7 and 11 in the evening we played 2 complete games, losing the first which was a hard scenario and moving to this more basic medium difficulty one for a second game. I won’t spoil the surprise of the result of this one. The scenario was simple – just collect the the 8 objectives spread across the buildings. These were supposed to be trapped villages, but a couple were really zombies – the only way to find them would be to get the objective and see if it was a different colour on the back, which meant zombies.img_6222As you can tell for the earlier pictures in the post things went well early on. We spawned few zombies so could search and gain objectives. The part split up and we took on different buildings in small teams. We also encountered a few necromancers but killed them to keep the spawn point numbers in control. img_6221We did get the Abomination – which could only be killed by lighting a potion of dragon bile with a touch. Of course we did not find those items, so we had to ‘dance’ with that to ensure it did not get too close to anyone. But half way through the game things were looking good. There was not too many zombies on the table, a couple of necromancers had escaped, increasing the number of spawn points and the tension, but things looked ok.img_6220However, in an attempt to get an additional objective my dwarf – Samson bit off more than he could chew and died. The runners came up fast and killed him off in his vain attempt to sneak in and claim one of the two remaining objectives we had to get. He was lagging behind the other characters in kills so was trying to catch up and failed. You can see the typical character control sheet below. This shows the weapons etc and the kill tracker at the bottom. This is a very nice looking game I have to say!img_6218This did not end the game though – in some scenario’s a hero dying does lose the game but not this one. The problem was though that the escalation of threats was getting more than the we could handle. Our searching for weapons had not been wonderfully successful and more zombies were coming on the board than we could cope with!img_6217In the end it was a necromancer who lost us the game. A couple of necromancer move cards came up and one got off the board before we could kill him. At that point we already had 6 spawn points out. So that was an auto loss. We thought we might do it till close to the end but it was not too be.img_6216Still we had a great deal of fun and it was an enjoyable game. In fact I never have not enjoyed Zombicide. The ones you loose are as much fun than the ones you win. A horde of Zombies killing you all makes for a light evening somethings.

Overall, as I said although not crazy complex or massively  tactical this game provides a fun light gaming. You do end up playing the ‘period not the rules’ as they drop into the background. There are plenty of decision points and the escalation in the game adds tenson. It’s not massively tactical but far from just a die roller either.  For an evenings light gaming with friends IMO it’s hard to beat. The ability to support any number of players with ease is a bonus as well.

Posted in 28mm, Board game, Review | 1 Comment

Black Plague – Zombicide

So I guess I have a confession to make – Zombicide ( all the various versions) generally are one of my favourite board games to play. Yes it’s not massively deep or complex but it’s fun, a little silly and difficult to win at. The base logic of the game is easy to understand and as a co-op game the players all win or lose together. It does not take itself too seriously either but it’s not a stupid game, and one where players do need tactics as well as luck to win. It does not hurt that the models in the game are really nice as well.

Black Plague is the first of the fantasy versions of the game and I got the Kickstarter version. It’s been sitting around waiting to be painted – we have other copies in the group and some people have painted copies so we have played those. So why not start this summer and get my version ready for the table all painted. This post includes half of the ‘walker zombies’ which I have – the first 20. I have been working on these for a little while now and so can show these as well as others.So down to some shots of the individual minis. I must apologize as some of these have come out quite dark . I tried to correct them as best I could but it was not perfect, especially on a couple of the shots. Ah well I hope you get the effect anyway – so much for using the iPhone for taking pictures.So here are the first set of 5 zombies. I tried to do a mixture of colours and blood splatter but have mainly used greens, browns and dark blues for clothing colours.You can see the very medieval influences on the models although some of them are obviously not true to the historical costumes.The middle one here is an example – stockings such as these were not common in the Middle Ages to my understanding! Overall, although plastic models these painted up well in my view. Sometimes such models don’t have enough indentation (sculpting relief) on the features but these are fine.Below is one of the photos which is just too dark. Hopefully this does not spoil this too much.Not sure why that lack of colour happened but it’s too take to reshoot the shot so I’ll live with it. I have just done the bases in straight grey. I thought about doing a more complex version but decided against in in the next.The final zombies are again a little dark but not quite as bad. Hopefully you can see the paint scheme ok.So there we are. Painted mini’s are much better than unpainted and makes the game come alive. These are not that hard to paint and make the game so much better.

Posted in 28mm, Board game | 4 Comments