Showing posts with label scifi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label scifi. Show all posts

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Comic Gong 2018

This is an entire post free of specific games stuff so if that's your only reason to read this blog, then it's probably best to move on.

Still here? Good.

Today was Comic Gong, which is Wollongong's free festival of pop-culture and nerdery, organised by the council through the public library service. As ever there was plenty of stalls, displays and events for all the family. There were even two miniatures companies selling their wares (although I didn't buy any). And, of course, there was cosplay. And, as you know, Catherine and I are partial to a little cosplay. 

In fact our costumes were the only ones I took pictures of. The photographic muse has deserted me recently for anything but blatant self-promotion, so that's all this post is; pictures of our cosplay.

But what a cosplay it was. Unlike previous years, when we have attempted specific characters, this year we decided to go for a theme. And the theme we went for was Star Trek. With a steampunk vibe. Yes, not original at all, but, surprisingly, something we could put together with very little effort using stuff we either owned or could borrow from our daughter. 

We put together our look, developing names for our character in the car on the way there.

Here's Catherine, as the logical Vulcan Sub-Commander Spanik.

She seems very stern and forbidding ...

... but is capable of a very unVulcan smile when prompted.

And do you like her Starfleet badge? I made us one each from layered card and small cogwheels from the steampunk accessories section of our local sewing and craft shop.

I took on the role of adorable red-shirt, Ensign Persano, whose name is derived from a very convoluted reference to something in the Sherlock Holmes canon. My cameo choker is also made from bits from the same craft and sewing shop.

The ray-gun was part of Catherine's Doctor Venus costume from a couple of years ago.

The belt was the only major item I bought specifically for the costume. It's the first cosplay I've done where I can actually carry my personal effects as part of the costume.

Even officers of the Steamship Enterprise need sustenance.

 More tea, Ensign?

The biggest thing to come out of it was that we met one of the senior photographers for our local paper, since she was obviously covering the event. She took our photos for the paper, of course, but whilst she took them we chatted and she wants to try and put together a story or photo-essay on Catherine and myself with regard to my crossdressing and how it's part of our life. We're quite excited by this; it's something about which people make a lot of assumptions and which is very misunderstood, and it's nice to be given an opportunity to maybe change the way people think, and do some good.

Update: Bonus picture of the two of us together.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Deep Space D-6

"You are the Captain of the USS Crypsis - a RPTR class starship on routine patrol of the Auborne system when a distress call was received. Upon warping in you quickly realize it was a trap! With the help of your crew, you must survive until a rescue fleet appears."

This is the premise of Deep Space D-6, a rather nice solitaire boardgame which I downloaded and printed the other day. Whilst there is a commercial version, with lovely components, extra rules and a selection of ships to play, there is a basic print and play version available as a free download for anyone who wants to give it a go. You can find it via its Boardgame Geek entry.

The mechanisms are relatively straightforward. Your ship's crew is represented by a hand of six dice. At the start of each turn you roll them, and the results dictate which crew assignments are available that turn - 1's are Command, 2's are Tactical, 3's are Medical, 4's are Science and 5's are Engineering. Command dice can alter other dice, tactical shoot at things, medical heal crew, Science operate the shields and keep threats at bay and Engineering repair damage. 6's are bad, representing Threats appearing on the scanners. Threats are the key to the game; there is a deck of 36-42 cards (depending on how many 'Nothing Happens' cards you choose to put in), mostly containing some obstacle or attacking enemy ship. Threats can be external (you shoot at them) or internal (issues on the ship which cause problems until specific crew specialisms resolve them). Each turn you automatically gain a new threat, and the scanners may generate more if you roll lots of 6's. So you roll your dice, assign the crew to deal with existing threats and issues according to what you have available, generate a new threat and then resolve all currently active threats to see if they damage the ship. You win if you get through the deck and eliminate all active external threats. It's not easy (even with all the 'Nothing Happens' cards in play). You lose if your ship reaches zero hull or, if at the start of a turn, you have no crew dice available to roll.

I played  quick game last night just to try it out, didn't put much effort into it and got destroyed about a third of the way through the deck.

This evening I decided to give it a proper go. This was the start of my first game, with the initial threats consisting of an Assault Cruiser and an approaching Meteoroid. The latter is a nasty threat, since it automatically scores damage, even if you destroy it. All you can do is attempt to delay it so that when it hits your ship has enough hull and shields to take the impact.

Things quickly went pear-shaped, as a lack of Tactical rolls prevented me from engaging the steadily accumulating wave of Threats. You can see a series of die results on each card. A single Threat Die is rolled, and every Threat card with the resulting number on it is activated. At this stage rolling a one was not a good thing to happen. I rolled a one.

The next turn I rolled another one, and the meteoroid smacked into my virtually crippled ship, destroying it. I was less then halfway through the deck.

My second game went slightly better, but again, I couldn't stop the Threats accumulating. The end came when I was attacked by a horde of cloaked threats (the card to the left of the main board), a double-whammy for which I was ill-prepared.

The third game went far more smoothly. I got great rolls virtually all of the way through, which meant I was able to stay on top of the Threats. Yes, there were a few hair-raising moments, but I eventually made it to the end of the deck. At this point things could still have gone badly; I still had to resolve the remaining three external threats (the cards on the right), but three of my six crew dice were in the infirmary, and one of the others was 'Distracted' ("Show me some more of this thing you Earth-people call 'kissing' ..."). If the two active dice I had ended up locked in the scanners I would run out of crew and lose.

I didn't. I managed to stay on top of the Threats, recover my crew from the Infirmary ("I'm a doctor, not a random-number generator!"), save my sixth crew dice from the amorous clutches of a purple-haired alien sex-goddess and finish off the last of the attacking enemy ships just as the relief force arrived.

Of course, having defeated the game with the 'Nothing Happens' cards in the deck, I now feel honour-bound to remove some or all of them and increase the difficulty.

The game takes about thirty minutes to play, and occupies a reasonably small footprint, so is a perfect lunchtime game. I thoroughly recommend it.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Mongo vs Barsoom

And so we come to it; the final game in my Six by Six Challenge.

Although Flash Gordon united the races of Mongo into a great alliance, the planet still faced outside threats. And, ironically, one of them was warriors from another planet united by an earthman - Barsoom.

Flash assembled an army to meet the invasion.

1 x Hero General (Flash and Barin)
2 x Fliers (Prince Vultan and his Hawkmen)
2 x Warband (Prince Thun's Lionmen)
2 x Riders (Queen Fria and her Frigians)
2 x Lurkers (Arboreans)
1 x Airboat (War-Rocket)

The Barsoomian invaders looked like this.

1 x Hero General (John Carter)
4 x Blades (Warriors of Helium)
2 x Knights (Tars Tarkas and the Warriors of Thark)
2 x Airboats (Large Flyers)
1 x Flier (Small Flyers)

I dressed appropriately, if possibly in a biased way. And, yes, I'm listening to the soundtrack whilst writing this.

Flash opted to defend on a closed battlefield, hoping the threat of the Arboreans would keep the Barsoomians channelled into good going. Areas of brush would allow the Hawkmen more opportunity to outmanoeuvre the slower but more powerful Barsoomian aerial navy.

John Carter opted to lead his force through a gap, hoping to outfight Flash's aerial troops and bring his swordsmen into line before the varied Mongo forces could respond.

Flash advanced, but Vultan was obviously hungover, and didn't immediately respond to the order.

The Barsoomians pushed forward quickly, with their navy heading confidently into battle.

The first fights.

Things didn't go well for Barsoom. The first of a series of bad combat rolls which were to dog them in the early part of the game saw Vultan destroy their scout flyers, and other Hawkmen drive back one of their larger warships.

Exploiting their advantage, Vultan assisted the war-rocket in bringing down a mighty Barsoomian cruiser.

John Carter's navy was almost gone, and the battle was still in it infancy. Badly positioned to come to the support of his remaining airboat (mostly due to a patch of bad going), he rushed to shift the focus of the battle elsewhere, leading Tars Tarkas and the Green Martians into an attack on the Mongo left.

Flash responded with an excellent PIP roll ...

... which saw attacks all along the line The last Barsoomian airship was assaulted front and flank by Hawkmen, whilst Flash led the Frigians against the hordes of Thark.

Flash and Barin defeated the Green Martians facing them, and the Barsoomians were thrown back in disarray. A rapid defeat looked certain for them.

John Carter moved to reorganise what was left of his forces ...

... leading them in a fierce counter-attack.

He cut his way through the Frigians opposing him ...

... and attacked a band of Lionmen who had retreated to the rear of their army earlier.

Tars Tarkas did what he could to hold the Barsoomian right flank, but fell to Queen Fria (with some help from Flash and Barin).

John Carter was now hotly engaged with Prince Thun who was now assisted by the war-rocket, dispatched to bring back the earthman's body. It wasn't enough - the Warlord of Mars scattered the Lionmen.

The Barsoomians were now only 3AP from defeat. All the forces of Mongo had to do was destroy the last of their navy and victory would be theirs. But the Hawkmen couldn't do it; for round after round the battle ended in a draw.

John Carter rallied his army for one last desperate push, with helium's finest swordsmen rushing the Lionmen on one flank and Queen Fria's bird-riders on the other. John Carter went for the war-rocket.

The Barsoomian warship broke the stalemate, destroying the Hawkmen attacking it.

But elsewhere the Lionmen routed some of the swordsmen. Queen Fria fell back to avoid destruction.

John Carter destroyed the war-rocket. If he could catch Dale and Zarkov, who had a fled an earlier fight, he might be able to take them prisoner and force the army of Mongo to concede.

Unable to directly assist his friends, Flash ordered the Lionmen and Frigians into a coordinated attack on the Barsoomian swordsmen.

Victory! With the loss of the swordsmen the Barsoomian army was defeated.

Dejah Thoris held back her husband: "Leave 'em, John," she cried. "They ain't wurf it."

The two heroes met to discuss terms.

The Barsoomian losses: 13AP

And Mongo's losses: 9AP

This looked like it was going to be a quick win for Mongo after some terrible early combats for Barsoom, but John Carter held on admirably later on and came close to setting up a win. They were always on the back-foot, but didn't end up being a pushover.

And so that's it' I have played a sixth HOTT game with a new (or, in this case, partially new) army and with it I have completed my Six by Six Challenge.

6x6 - Game 1.6

Army Showcase - Flash Gordon and the Warriors of Mongo

I first conceived the idea of doing a Flash Gordon army for 'Hordes of the Things' back in 2000, but it took me two years to get around to putting it together. It was a fun army to use, with a strong aerial contingent, and I even used it with some minor success in a tournament.

A couple of years ago I decided to revamp it; tidy up the paintwork, redo the bases and even add a few new elements. As ever that particular project stalled, but in the past week or so I finsihed it off, mostly because I was willing to count the reworking as a 'new' HOTT army for the purposes of my 6x6 Challenge.

So here is the current incarnation of my Flash Gordon army. There's slightly more than 24AP; I think the original reworking was for a competition that used 36AP armies, although I must have lost some of the elements, because I can't see how I would have got 36AP out of what I have finished.

The army arrayed in full. It's based on various versions of Flash Gordon, including the comic strips, the 1930s serial and, of course, the wonderful 1980 film version.

In my original version of the army, Flash was an aerial hero general, and I still have the figure to do that. I didn't think to rework it as part of this project so will do it at a later date. For this iteration of the army, I have simply set Flash up as a hero general, accompanied by Prince Barin. Flash is a Peter Pig figure (indeed I think he's John Carter), whereas Barin is a tabletop Miniatures sci-fi figure.

Dale Arden and Doctor Hans Zarkov are a sneaker element. Both figures are from Peter Pig. Maybe one day I'll replace Dale with something more glamorous, but I rather like this version.

Prince Vultan can be either a flier or, if you have the points, an aerial hero. I can't remember who made these beautiful Hawkmen figures, but I think they inspired the production of the army all those years ago. I added a beard to this figure for that essential Brian Blessed look.

The rest of the Hawkmen are fliers.

Prince Thun's Lionmen area mix of spare ancients figures with a suitable paint-job and milliput and wire tails (which you can't see in the photos. They are classed as warband.

Whilst Prince barin gets to lord it up on the general's element, the rest of the Arboreans (more Peter Pig figures) are classed as lurkers. I may still add some trees to their bases because, well ... Arboreans.

A completely new addition to the army are the Frigians under Queen Fria. In the comic strip they ride around their arctic realm on snow-birds, flightless avians that look eminently suitable to die of frostbite in such a climate. But this is Mongo; who cares? Queen Fria seems rather under-dressed for such a climate, but the comic shows her and Flash in very little clothing, but with some kind of transparent thermal suit over the top. So she's wearing a transparent suit over that lilac bikini, OK?

The Frigians are riders and are mostly chook riders from Evil Gong Miniatures, whilst Queen Fria is, I think, a 15mm dungeon adventurer from an unknown manufacturer.

You've seen this before; this rocketship is a resin model of Princess Aura's shuttle from the 1980 Flash Gordon film. I chose not to paint it the same as in the film (where it's red and black) as I preferred the more metallic look of the older iterations of Flash Gordon. The rocketship is an airboat.

So the final list:

1 x Hero General (Flash and Barin)
1 x Sneaker (Dale Arden and Doctor Zarkov)
1 x Airboat (Rocketship)
4 x Fliers (Prince Vultan and his Hawkmen)
2 x Warband (Prince Thun's Lionmen)
2 x Lurkers (Arboreans)
2 x Riders (Queen Fria and her Frigians)

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