Posts Tagged ‘Colonial Marines’

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Utopia #9 – Old friends

November 16, 2013

When we left off a whopping four months ago, the 16th were in the process of storming Conner Industries’ research center 13 on the asteroid DH-3. The operation was going swell right up until the moment the squad realised they’d walked right into a trap. The forces of the Outer colonies had decided to crush one of the vaunted UTOPIA squads in a display of force and cunning.

The 16th was unfazed, though, and did their best to set up defenses. A search of the station armory (with the help of some defected security guards) revealed three brand new, unused automated sentry guns, which were quickly placed at critical locations. In addition the troopers hauled a few small shipping containers into the corridors to provide cover, and prepared to receive the attackers.

The sixteenth prepares

The sixteenth prepares

First to enter the installation was Pvt. Johnson of the Outer colonies 3rd Heavy infantry. He barely had time to step into the first corridor, when the sentry turret opened up and quite literally tore him apart. The demoralising start stalled the assault completely as the Heavy infantry leader Sgt. Mancala ordered a more cautious approach.

The new approach proved more successful, aided by the sentry gun misfiring. Having sat in their crate for years, they simply hadn’t been field tested and the squad could only curse as the gunfire suddenly died down. The troopers pitched in with their own firepower, with Lt. Fender and Pvts. Lau and Abdul pouring pulse rifle fire and grenades down the corridor.

It was tough going for the attackers, with trooper after trooper falling. However, the Outer colonies had committed to the mission, and a steady stream of reserves kept pouring in. Metre by metre, the attackers were pushing forward and taking the corridors. The grenades fired by the defenders served the attackers as well, with drifting smoke obscuring the advancing Heavy infantry. When another of the sentry guns died to the sound of electric fizzing and popping, things were starting to look worse. The 16th had something to look forward to, though: a hail from their dropship, the Apache Owl let them know that help was on the way. Would it reach them in time?

Heavy infantry advancing behind smoke

Heavy infantry advancing behind smoke

Four security guards had joined the 16th after it became apparent that they were not about to be rescued. However, it was quickly becoming clear that they were ill-equipped for the situation. While they did their best to guard the corridors with their few semi-automatic rifles, they were completely failing to do damage to the attackers, much to the frustration of the sixteenth. The Heavy infantry was getting closer and closer and were already at a distance where they could lob grenades at the defenders.

Disaster struck the attackers just as they were about to break through the defenses. The last sentry gun had malfunctioned, and Sgt. Mancala pulled the pin from a grenade and turned to throw it at the defenders, when the gun suddenly came back to life thanks to Pvt. DiGlaeser’s technical aptitude. Mancala hurriedly pulled back but fumbled with the grenade which fell at his feet, blowing up the sergeant and knocking nearby trooper Kaneda down. On the brink of breaking the defenders, the attack collapsed and the attackers pulled back, leaderless. With the Union of Terra fleet approaching, the defenders were suddenly close to winning.

Sgt. Mancala's grenade fail clears the corridor

Sgt. Mancala’s grenade fail clears the corridor

A heavy clanking announced a new turn of events. To the shock of the UTOPIA troopers, Pvt. Jane, MIA after the cyborg attack on Ryukyu Epsilon, had been brought back as a monstrous hybrid of man and machine. Apparently the Cyberdyne-Sendai corporation had managed to salvage more from the disaster than they’d let the Union know. The cyborg marched in, smashing Heavy infantry aside and stepping into the corridor. Lt. Fender and Pvts. Lau, Abdul and Dastevan stared eyes wide as the monster activated the minigun mounted on its right arm. The howl of the barrels was followed by a storm of bullets that tore up the corridor. Lau was hit twice and fell to the floor, while the rest ducked behind corners to avoid the onslaught. Miraculously, “Dog” Lau was still alive and unharmed, although scared out of his wits by yet another close brush with death. The troopers returned fire, but their shots ricocheted harmlessly off Jane. Lt. Fender could immediately see where this was going. It was time to abandon their positions and fall back to wait for extraction. Abdul fired another grenade down the corridor to slow Jane down and to provide them with some smoke for cover.

Cyborg Jane makes his entrance

Cyborg Jane makes his entrance

There was one man who didn’t want to retreat without a fight. Pvt. Krayten Dastevan was itching for combat and stood his ground in a branching side corridor, looking to not only engage Jane, but to engage him/it in hand to hand combat! Lieutenant Fender would have none of this. “Quit messing around, Dastevan, and haul ass out of there on the double!” he ordered. Grudingly Dastevan obeyed, but he did it too late. As he sprinted down the corridor, Jane spotted him and turned the minigun on Dastevan. Halfway through his escape, Pvt. Dastevan was cut in half by the hail of shots, spraying a nearby security guard with blood. The bullets tore through the last of the sentry guns as well. Jane spotted some more guards at the end of the corridor and stomped off after them. This enabled several of the 16th to sneak off towards safety.

Jane prepares to fire on Dastevan

Jane prepares to fire on Dastevan

The security guards fled, leaving Jane with no visible targets. The cyborg lumbered on and came face to face with one of the Heavy infantry troopers, who had been more than happy to hang back and let Jane clear the corridors for them. The minigun barrels whirred up again, but luckily rudimentary recognition protocols had been installed and Heavy infantry Pvt. Julian only suffered a case of soiled underwear.

Most of the 16th were fairly safely tucked away in a remote part of the research centre. Most, apart from Pvt. Lau. Lau had been too scared to stand up, and was slowly crawling down the corridor, hidden from sight by the shipping crate the squad had dragged up. There were two Heavy infantry troopers walking down the corridor, however, and it would only be a moment before Lau was spotted. Determined not to leave any more men behind, Lt. Fender ordered covering fire, and whether it was because of Lau’s uncanny luck or the troopers’ skill, the Heavy infantry was gunned down before they noticed the scruffy trooper.

The 16th huddles together

The 16th huddles together…

...as Lau crawls towards safety

…as Lau crawls towards safety

Fear spurred the three remaining security guards on, and they fled from Jane as fast as they could, barricading themselves in a room to wait for retrieval. True enough, a moment later the Apache Owl landed on the roof of the installation with a pressurised dome and started cutting an escape hatch. The Outer colonies forces were retreating, and the day was won. Only one decision remained: “Wait for us!” cried the security guards. Jane’s minigun had just shredded the door to the room and death loomed. Eyes turned to Lt. Fender for the decision. To wait for the security guards would endanger the squad, but this was the call Fender made. The guards had helped out, and it would have been inhumane to leave them behind – besides, with Dastevan gone there was always room for new recruits. The guards escaped, but the delay meant Jane had one more chance to open up on the Apache Owl. Bullets punched through into the crew compartment, and one of the security guards lost his leg at the knee. The sixteenth had made it, but had suffered yet another casualty, bringing the tally up to 15.

Pvt. Dastevan - KIA

Pvt. Dastevan – KIA

Man oh man, am I happy. After four months of inactivity, I had my doubts about the survival of this campaign. A much shorter delay has killed games before, and Utopia is my beloved pet. I was super happy to see that my fears were for nothing, as we quickly got into the groove again despite one of my three players dropping out at the last minute due to illness. After the first few rounds the players again remembered their characters and their personalities, and we once again got to grips with the rules. The game was as cinematic as before, and after the game we heaped praise on Flying Lead by Ganesha Games. The simple mechanics allow for quick and easy modification, and we came up with a lot of special rules on the spot, such as grenade explosions clouding the corridors with smoke, sentry guns and their malfunctions and Jane’s programming glitches – there was a very real chance of Jane actually firing on the the hapless Heavy infantry trooper, and when he was swatting aside the Outer colonies troopers, sheer luck stopped them from being injured.

That’s pretty much exactly one year of Utopia behind us. The next scenario will once again be something completely different. This one was a great opportunity for me to field my lovely new Pig Iron Heavy infantry and my cyborg Jane conversion. Now, what should I paint next…

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The Faithful Departed

November 2, 2013

As it’s All Saints’ Day in Finland, I figured I’d make a themed post. The Utopia campaign is still ongoing, despite a long break. In fact, we’ve already scheduled the next game – ten days from now.

The campaign has seen its share of heroes and anti-heroes – some more memorable than others. In this post we remember the valiant and somewhat less valiant troopers of UTOPIA squad 16 that have given their tiny lead and plastic lives in service of the mighty Union of Terra.

brauer

Sgt. Salt Brauer was the long-time leader of the 16th, who went from a washed-up alcoholic to a hero of sorts. MIA on Ryukyu Epsilon after cyborg attack, presumed dead.

rodriguez

Cpl. Diego “Ding” Rodriguez came from a privileged Latin American family. KIA by a cyborg on Ryukyu Epsilon.

ace

Cpl. “Ace” Wembley was a cynical alcoholic. KIA by an insurrectionist on the Alpha moon of Kessler-11.

bedford

Pvt. Bedford was a tough British radical feminist. KIA by a Predator on Triton-4.

bjornssen

Pvt. Bjornssen was a mild-mannered Norwegian tech expert. KIA by an insurrectionist on the Alpha moon of Kessler-11.

ghillian

Pvt. Ghillian was a young female technician, known for her retro music collection. KIA by a Predator on Triton-4.

hellion

Pvt. “Hellion” was a young punk rocker and smartgunner. No one knew her real name. KIA by a security guard on the asteroid DH-3.

hamalainen

Pvt. Hämäläinen was a dour, effective Finn, who kept to himself. KIA by a cyborg on Ryukyu Epsilon.

iljutsh

Pvt. Iljutsh was a former Russian truck driver, on the run from the mob. MIA on Triton-4 after Predator attack, presumed dead.

jane

Pvt. Jane knew his military doctrine in an out – a real hero. MIA on Ryukyu Epsilon after cyborg attack, presumed dead.

kenny

Pvt. Kenny was a former pro football player. None too smart, but deadly with a flamethrower. MIA on Ryukyu Epsilon after cyborg attack, presumed dead.

mcsorley

Pvt. McSorley was a heavy weapons specialist with a genuine enthusiasm for shooting things. MIA on Ryukyu Epsilon after cyborg attack, presumed dead.

trill

Pvt. Trill was a happy-go-lucky technician. MIA on Ryukyu Epsilon after cyborg attack, presumed dead.

wu

Pvt. Wu was an excellent sniper with the squad’s most impressive kill count and a knack for off duty trade. KIA by a cyborg on Ryukyu Epsilon.

The Union thanks these individuals for their service. More will surely follow.

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Utopia #8 – Assault on research center 13

July 7, 2013

The war between the Union of Terra and the Outer colonies was steadily grinding on. For their prowess in combat, the sixteenth had been given some generous R&R, sergeant Fender had been promoted to lieutenant and corporal Franz-Haugen-Ankerson had been made the new sergeant. Swartz and Bruce were still in the sick bay from being peppered with machine gun bullets in the unit’s previous mission. As a sort of reward, the team was handed an easy mission: Conner Industries’ research center 13 on the asteroid DH-3 was housing newly developed military technology. What’s more, the normally heavily guarded installation was going through a guard rotation and was sporting only a minimal security crew. A quick smash and grab of both research data and scientists was in order. The unit was joined by two new troopers:

Pvt. Brian Boru, a slightly unhinged flamethrower-wielding trooper with a tendency for pyromania and a faint aroma of gasoline always hanging about him.

Pvt. “Hellion”, a young female punk rocker. No one has an idea of her real nime, as she prefers her stage name. While reluctantly a part of the military, she tends to be good at it. Hellion wields a smartgun.

The sixteenth blasted their way into the station. The motion scanners detected a guard right outside their planned entry door. Springing into action, they opened the door – much to the guard’s surprise. The security officer hardly had enough time to register that something was happening, when he was grabbed by pvt. Dastevan and given a faceful of rifle stock. The unconscious guard was pulled into the entry chamber, and the team spread out into the corridors of the research center.

A lone blip on the motion scanner reveals a guard

A lone blip on the motion scanner reveals a guard

Waiting to breach

Waiting to breach

The sixteenth fans out

The sixteenth fans out

The unit was steamrolling through the installation. Boru, Lau, Leroy and Franz-Haugen-Ankerson headed for the infirmary, while Hellion, Fender, DiGlaeser and Abdul took the main corridor towards the data core. Dastevan being Dastevan, he stormed off in order to take down another guard, who was warily approaching, clutching his pistol. The gun wasn’t much help though, as moments later Dastevan pounced on him and knocked him unconscious in one blow – right under the eyes of a quickly panicking scientist, who was the next one to go down after a brief struggle. Dastevan was on a roll and enjoying himself.

Sgt. Franz-Haugen-Ankerson’s crew entered the infirmary to find a surprised young doctor. The doctor voiced his disapproval but quickly fell quiet after observing the dynamic duo of Boru and Lau – the first cradling a flamethrower with a manic gleam in his eyes and the second twitching nervously, waving his gun around and looking the medicine cabinets over with the eye of a true connoisseur. The good doctor was bound with zip ties and private Leroy started escorting him out at gunpoint.

The medic and the doctor - there's a difference

The medic and the doctor – there’s a difference

Everything wasn’t going to plan, however. While most of the operation was rolling along as expected, lieutenant Fender’s group didn’t have it their way. Private Hellion rounded a corner to take down a female security guard, who promptly proceeded to pistol-whip the smartgunner. Hellion took a nasty fall, smacked her head into the wall and fell unconscious.

The security guard surprises Hellion

The security guard surprises Hellion

With Hellion down, the guard quickly retreated to a better position. The security force wouldn’t go down without a fight, but with pistols and a few carbines against the UTOPIA troopers’ pulse rifles, flamethrowers and sharp sticks, it wasn’t promising. True enough, a moment later the guard saw her bullet glance off DiGlaeser’s body armour and she was taken down by DiGlaeser and Dastevan. Another security guard turning up had a similar fate, despite her carrying one of the security team’s two carbines.

Attempting to turn the tide, the security chief Hutchinson joined the fight. A long period of inactivity in the guards’ duties proved to be his demise, as his gun clicked empty when he tried to return fire against the troopers. In response lieutenant Fender shot Hutchinson in the face, killing him instantly. This left only one security guard, Smith.

Smith was definitely not going down without a fight. He had a good position at the end of a long corridor. He’d peek out and squeeze off a few shots with his carbine and then take cover behind a corner. Lieutenant Fender and trooper Abdul poured fire down the corridor but were unable to dislodge the pesky guard…

Officer Smith holds his ground...

Officer Smith holds his ground

…who responded with some accurate fire of his own. Both Fender and Abdul were knocked to the floor and sheer luck saved their lives as Smith’s rounds whistled down the corridor.

Fender and Abdul run into trouble

Fender and Abdul run into trouble

It wasn’t until Dastevan managed to flank the guard that he finally put down his weapon and surrendered. It seemed the fight for research center 13 was well and truly over, when suddenly the Apache Owl – the unit’s dropship – hailed them: “Lieutenant Fender! Things are getting rough out here – the fleet is moving in and they’re transporting in new troops by the boatload!” Things started clicking into place: the convenient gap in the guard rotation, the skeleton crew, the scientists with their ID cards saying “assistant” or “intern”…A TRAP! The research center’s intercom soon let them know, that they had a minute to offer their surrender before facing annihilation. The sixteenth tried to bargain with the lives of the scientists and the security personnel, but to no awail.

Not willing to play ball, the sixteenth immediately started checking their surroundings. After interrogating the personnel, it quickly became clear that an easy escape was out of the question. After a bit of persuasion and discussion, the surviving members of the security team offered to join the troopers in exchange for their freedom. After all, it had just become apparent that their well-being wasn’t a top priority for their superiors. This proved to be a good deal, as one of the guards remembered a long unused cache of weapons in the armory. After opening the crate, the troopers found five automated sentry turrets, which were sure to become handy very soon.

As Lieutenant Fender started giving out orders for the defenders, the medic Shaq Leroy went to check on pvt. Hellion, who still hadn’t waken up. Leroy was in for a sad surprise, as Hellion’s head had hit the corner of a loose wall plate, and the young punk rocker was long gone. It seemed the sixteenth’s curse was still going strong – apart from Franz-Haugen-Ankerson and Evans who had been in the unit from day one, no female trooper had survived for more than a mission or two, and many had died on their first assignment.

Thus concluded the first game of Utopia’s “season 2”, and the first part of our first ever two-part mission for Utopia, the next part will follow when I get some new minis painted up for the attackers. The game was great fun, and yet another very cinematic session that attests to the versatility of the Flying Lead system. It was also a great chance to break out my Space Hulk tiles for a change. While ‘Hulk is a grid based game, the tiles worked perfectly well with Flying Lead’s measurement system. I also used plenty of resin scenery bits from Ainsty, although all too few of them have been painted yet. It was nice to have the recently painted security guards on the table too.

As always, I’m happy the campaign is still rolling on, even with long gaps between games! Feedback welcome, as always!

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A.T.A.C. APC by Scotia Grendel – a review

June 7, 2013

There are several things people tend to associate with the movie Aliens – the pulse rifle, the power loader, the sentry gun, the drop ship…and the armoured personnel carrier, or APC for short. Just in case you don’t remember what I’m talking about, it’s this:

aliens-apc

image © Twentieth Century Fox

Since you already have a bunch of Colonial Marines (right?) or other suitable near future military types, you’re going to want to have a sweet ride for them. Originally this review was supposed to be a comparison between various models, but I’ve had some trouble acquiring other APCs. I’ll take this time to offer my apologies to Scotia Grendel for taking a very long time in getting this review out!

With the preamble out of the way, let’s get down to the real beef – the review of Scotia Grendel’s A.T.A.C. APC.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Retailing at £17.00 (~20€ at time of writing), the model is very reasonably priced. The kit contains the APC hull itself, seven wheels, a turret and the turret’s mount. There are three additional metal bits too: a minigun for the turret, an antenna (which I didn’t attach) plus a top hatch.

There’s plenty of nice detailing on the model, with jerry cans and baggage stowed and the surfaces lovingly greebled. In addition to the turret mounted minigun, there’s a baby minigun (aww!) in the front of the vehicle.

The resin is heavy and hard, but not too brittle. On some parts – the hull especially – casting quality leaves a lot to be  desired. I needed to take a knife blade and a file to the model, and while this wasn’t too much work, on some parts the model has been disfigured by the casting process and would need a lot of work to fix completely. All this said, the casting is mostly very crisp and overall the model looks nice if you’re willing to overlook some dodgy bits. I understand that this is quite an old model, which both makes it more impressive in my view and may contribute somewhat to the quality issues. Also, it could just be that I had the misfortune of simply receiving a subpar casting.

With the parts cleaned, the model was very simple to put together even with no assembly instructions. I pinned the wheels in place, but you could probably just use glue.

Size wise, there has definitely been scale creep throughout the years, so the A.T.A.C. is very much on the small side. In my opinion it’s not too small to be used alongside your average 28mm stuff, and with smaller 28mm ranges such as 1st Corps or Denizen it’s even more fitting. I’ve mentioned before of course, that I’m not particularly picky when it comes to size issues, so I don’t have a problem with it, but I appreciate the fact that for some people it might be more important. I’ve included a size comparison picture with common 28mm ranges to help you make your decision. Note that you could also base the APC to compensate for the minis’ bases.

Click for a larger version

L to R: Hasslefree, em4, Denizen, Copplestone, Defiance, 1st Corps. Click for a larger version

Of course there’s also the big question of how Aliens-y it is! While it’s clearly a completely different vehicle and there are some APC on the market that are much closer to the movie ride, there’s something about the A.T.A.C. that keeps reminding me of the movie APC. Whether it is the sloping front of the hull or the shape of the turret, I was immediately reminded of the iconic Colonial Marine transport. The fact that it’s not a 1:1 match has actually turned into something of a plus in my book, as it means it’s more readily usable with a wide range of scifi models.

Overall verdict: Apart from some casting and size issues, the A.T.A.C. APC is a very nice find for its price. It’s not perfect as a model or as an Aliens APC proxy, but if you want a little armoured power for your troopers, you could do far worse – especially if your minis collection is more 28mm than 30mm.

You can find the A.T.A.C. APC at the Scotia Grendel webstore.

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Utopia #7 – The general’s speech

April 26, 2013

Political tension was mounting up between the Union of Terra’s core worlds and its Outer colonies. The Outer colonies were strengthening their mutual alliances and there was more talk about leaving the Union than usually. Plenty of the corporate-owned Outer colonies were seeing an increase in PMCs and corporate security forces. The Union military was on high alert.

Alarming news came through: several high ranking Union military officers had defected to the colonies, chief among them the celebrated war hero and people’s favourite, general Hyun. Hyun had been transported to the planet of Marankov Primus, escorted by a team of operatives from the Redmond Security company and a Weyland-Yutani combat synthetic. The intention was for Hyun to make a rousing call for secession from the Union, that would be broadcast throughout colony worlds. The situation on Marankov Primus was tense, with attacks mounted on Union military and supply targets. The Union military on the planet was still loyal, but Hyun’s speech could very well tip the situation in the rebels’ favour.

Hyun’s speech would have to be stopped. The Union intelligence had tracked the general to a decommisioned military outpost, Tango-1. It was time for UTOPIA squad 16 to do their thing and stop Hyun from broadcasting his message. There was precious little time to do it.

Touching down on Marankov Primus, the 16th made their way through the woods towards the outpost with its thick walls, while Dastevan and Abdul managed to stealth their way inside the compound from the rear. Three of Redmont Security’s guards were guarding the area, one at the perimeter wall, one patrolling the area and a third one up in the guard tower with a light machinegun. DiGlaeser used his radio expertise to jam the rebels’ transmission systems, buying more time for the squad to stop Hyun.

A view through the trees

A view through the trees

Sgt. Fender leads from the front

Sgt. Fender leads from the front

Redmond Security - keeping an eye on your compound

Redmond Security – keeping an eye on your compound

A guard scans the area with his LMG

A guard scans the area with his LMG

The troopers hadn’t been spotted yet. Dastevan and Abdul quietly snuck to the back of a large barracks, and peeked in to see a Redmond operative cleaning his weapon. Not wasting a moment, Dastevan ran in and stabbed the man with his bayonet, bringing him down. Abdul mercilessly stomped on his neck to make sure he wouldn’t alert the others.

Meanwhile, the other Redmond troopers obviously weren’t expecting an attack, as they were scanning the treeline, but failed to notice the squad making its way over open ground to the wall and climbing over it. With most of the squad over the wall, the sniper Cohl raised his rifle and put a bullet through the head of a guard standing at the main entrance, finally alerting the PMCs.

A guard burst out from one of the smaller buildings, only to be knocked down by another one of Cohl’s accurate rounds. The former olympic marksman was murderously effective, standing in the shadows of the trees and raining death into the compound. Emboldened by Cohl’s supporting fire, troopers Bruce and Swartz rushed forward, only to be met with a hail of machinegun fire from the guard tower, going down wounded. The two guards still standing were doing their best to protect the traitorous general.

The machinegun in the tower guns down Bruce and Swartz

The machinegun in the tower guns down Bruce and Swartz

Abdul ran to finish the guard Cohl had knocked down. He calmly raised the barrel to the man’s face and pulled the trigger, only to find out he had forgotten to load his rifle. The tiny click the empty weapon made was deafening. The grinning Redmond operative fired his own rifle at point blank range…or would’ve fired, if his earlier fall hadn’t jammed dirt into his rifle. The man’s arrogant smile faded, and moments later a hail of bullets cut him down.

Abdul prepares to finish off a fallen guard

Abdul prepares to finish off a fallen guard – drama ensues

The squad was making good progress, but time was running out. Cohl’s rifle roared again, and another guard went down. This finally caused the machinegun wielding guard in the tower to lose his nerve and make his way down. The sixteenth ran towards the building they knew the general was in. Dastevan bought a little more time by opening up on the satellite dish with his rifle. Doing so, he failed to notice the guard with the machinegun, who leveled his weapon, ready to add another member of the squad to his tally. The empty click of the machine gun was even louder than Abdul’s. Being a professional, the guard could see his game was up, so he threw the gun down, raised his hands, got on his knees and was restrained by Dastevan.

Abdul and Lau went to the door and called for the general to come out, to no apparent reaction. The door was locked, too. Dastevan figured the best way was to simply trust blind luck, and fired full auto through the building’s wall. Abdul took a more sensible route, and shot up the lock on the door. Seconds after he’d done it, the combat synthetic stormed out through the door and grabbed Abdul with inhuman strength. In a desperate hurry, Lau attacked the synth from behind, only to be shrugged off. It wasn’t until Sgt. Fender joined the fight that the troopers managed to pull the android to the ground and Abdul rushed into the room. The bodyguard had done his job, however. Time was up, and general Hyun had made his broadcast. The general offered his surrender – the damage had already been done.

Abdul and Lau prepare to breach the door

Abdul and Lau prepare to breach the door

Sgt. Fender observes the breaching action

Sgt. Fender observes the breaching action

Suddenly a wild synthetic appears!

Suddenly a wild synthetic appears!

A victorious general Hyun surrenders

A victorious general Hyun surrenders

As the noise dies down, a lone badger studies the field

As the noise dies down, a lone badger studies the field

A few days later the news broke. Maybe it was the speech, maybe it was one of the countless other incidents happening throughout the Union. Whatever the reason was, war had broken out between the Union and the Outer colonies.

This seventh game concludes the first “season” of Utopia. What this means is that the game’s narrative takes on a new theme – that of civil war. It’s not going to be all that, of course. To be honest, a large part of it is that it provides me with easier inspiration for future scenarios. Also, I think the campaign will benefit from having something akin to a main plot. While monster of the week style play is fun, I don’t think it can keep its appeal forever. I’ve also really wanted to do a bit of storytelling for a while now, and this’ll provide me with a good opportunity to do that. The players have said that they’re happy to stay with the campaign, and we’re busy trying to schedule the next game. It’ll probably happen somewhere around mid-May-ish.

As you may have noticed, I made a lot of cardstock terrain for this board. I’ve never been very good at it, but with all the changing scenarios it’s simply not feasible to try and crank out resin or plastic terrain. I’m slowly getting better at it, too, and destroying far less than I used to. The main components here are the Tango Prime perimeter set (which I named the compound after) by Finger and Toe models, which is an absolute steal at $0.50 and Folding Unit Structures by Genet Models, which weren’t too pricey either at $6.50.

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From the painting desk #21 – More Utopia

April 14, 2013

Wow, this is actually my 250th post. While the blog hasn’t been updated as frequently as before, I ensure you it’s still going strong. As the blog now has a quarter of a thousand posts, I figured I’d give you a look at what’s up.

As you can’t have failed to notice, I’ve been running a near future military scifi campaign for a while now. With seven games played (AAR #7 coming soon!) this is the longest campaign I’ve run in good long while, and both I and the players have really enjoyed it. You can find the associated posts by checking out everything tagged Utopia. The campaign has not only allowed me to use a lot of my miniatures, but also has really inspired me to paint minis and build terrain a lot. Deadlines help too!

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Anyway, it’s on with the minis in chronological order. First up is a hunting beast for my Predators. The miniature is actually a hellhound by Heresy with the choice of a skeletal head. I really liked the idea of Predators using dog-like hunting creatures as shown in the Predators film. This one’s by no means a full match, but I think it looks fearsome and alien enough. Like practically all of the Heresy multipart minis, I had plenty of work getting the hound to a paintable state. There were some heavy mould lines and the fit of the parts really wasn’t stellar. After I’d all but finished painting it, I found out to my delight that I’d missed a glaring mould line on the hound’s side. As I didn’t want to ruin the paintjob, I painted some scarring over it, which I think turned out nice.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Next up is a conversion. While originally painted for Utopia, this fellow hasn’t appeared on the field so far. It’s actually the late-ish Pvt. Jane, who was captured fighting the Terminators. As you can see, he has been subjected to horrible experimentation and has been made into a cyborg. The model is a warbot from Pig Iron Productions with a head from Puppetswar and a minigun from Maxmini. I think the parts work nicely together and combine well to make a really intimidating figure. The paintjob is super simple, with basically just washes and drybrushing on the bulk. I paid more attention to the face, and I think it turned out looking pretty good. That resin head is pretty awesome, and I basically made this conversion just so I could justify buying the head…

L to R: Trill, Cohl, Abdul, Dastevan. Click for a larger version

L to R: Trill, Cohl, Abdul, Dastevan. Click for a larger version

Up next is a bunch of Utopia troopers – Trill, Cohl, Abdul and Dastevan. Nothing too special here, they were all given my typical trooper treatment. Trill is a Hasslefree mini, Cohl is a SWAT sniper from Foundry and Abdul and Dastevan are both from em4. I think Cohl is a good example of how a paint job can really change the way a model looks.

Click for a larger version

Click for a larger version

Topping off the post is General Hyun – set to appear in the upcoming Utopia AAR #7. Hyun is a Copplestone Castings miniature and I’m really really happy with him. Somehow those greys just turned out lovely and the uniform looks very crisp. I rarely get the feeling that I really nailed a mini, but with this one I’m patting my own back. Please refrain from posting ego-crushing comments!

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Utopia #6 – Something rotten on 311-Krugman

March 27, 2013

Utopia unit 16 was slowly recovering from their disastrous last mission. With Wu and Hämäläinen dead, Trill and McSorley left behind on Ryukyu Epsilon and Evans and Franz-Haugen-Ankerson hospitalized, it was time to bring in some fresh meat. With the losses suffered by the Utopia units, new troopers were transferring in from various sources. Joining the Sweet Sixteenth were

Pvt. Abdul, a polite and well-mannered devout Moslem transferring in from MESA – the Middle East Security Army. With no blemishes on his service record, Abdul’s semi-forced transfer is a bit of a mystery.

Pvt. Swartz, the unit’s new heavy weapons specialist. A jovial Neo-Bavarian with a liking for beer and sausages – lots of both. Schwarz is also from MESA, and he’s a voluntary transfer.

Pvt. “Shaq” Leroy, a medic from the New Orleans isles. Leroy’s not only a capable medic, but very canny in the kitchen as well – managing to turn even freeze-dried spam into a more than decent meal.

Pvt. Cohl, the new sniper. Cohl’s a calm, relaxed professional in his forties, with a history in Olympic shooting.

Pvt. Dastevan has a long background working for the private military company Greyocean. Dastevan’s a real killer with a leaning towards black supremacist ideas and a drive to bond with everyone he conceives to be a “brother”.

Pvt. Bruce who simply loves military service. Or rather, the chance to yell at people, keep a strict discipline and inflict physical harm. Bruce is in Utopia for the front line action and doing his best to impress Sgt. Fender.

The unit was enjoying their downtime with rest and recreation, or rather what downtime they had after Sgt. Fender’s merciless training sessions. They were regularly visiting Evans and Franz-Haugen-Ankerson in the sickbay and trying their best to form a team when they were given what sounded like a very lightweight mission: the small factory colony of Adderall Field on 311-Krugman had gone quiet, and the Sambreel corporation was fearing an uprising similar to the one on Kessler-11.

In fact, Sambreel had already contacted private military company Skyhawk to look into the matter. However, due to colonial legislation the mission was placed under the jurisdiction of the Union and that meant the 16th was going in with the Skyhawk PMCs. The mission was to go in and find out what had happened and bring back the factory manager’s computer with its relevant information and records if the colonists didn’t have an explanation. Civilian casualties were to be avoided at all cost. A simple job, yet Captain Jensen called to Fender before the mission and asked him to keep an eye on the PMCs and to make sure they didn’t take the computer. It was time for Operation Big Brother.

The troopers deployed on the edge of Adderall Field, and cautiously started moving in. Meanwhile, the Skyhawk team lead by lieutenant Dircks stormed forward towards the factory manager’s quarters, seemingly not bothering to look for civilians. The PMC sniper, Cpl. Thoreaux took the stairs to the top of one of the nearby storage silos, while Pvt. Cohl, the 16th’s sniper, did likewise. To make sure there wouldn’t be any nasty surprises from the Skyhawk crew, Pvt. DiGlaeser tried to tap into their private communication channel. While he couldn’t quite breach it, he was able to monitor the transmissions to the extent that allowed him to notice if voices were spiking and communication got hectic.

The Skyhawk PMCs deploy

The Skyhawk PMCs deploy

Lt. Dircks leads his men

Lt. Dircks leads his men

Pvt. Dastevan checked out the closest building, and found a civilian standing there, staring mute at the wall and not responding to the trooper’s communication attempts. Elsewhere the troopers and PMCs were spotting some more civilians, all of them in a similar, passive state. All of a sudden, shots started ringing out. At the orders of Sgt. Fender, Pvt. Abdul climbed to the roof of one of the buildings to better survey the situation. He was shocked by what he saw: the Skyhawk operators were indiscriminately gunning down unarmed civilians!

The troopers spread out and Abduls heads for the roof

The troopers spread out and Abduls heads for the roof

Fender tried to contact Lt. Dircks but to no avail, the PMCs were not responding to hails but continued firing. DiGlaeser noticed there was some heavy radio traffic going on. Dircks, flanked by two of his troopers, made it to the factory manager’s quarters to secure the computer. The sixteenth were encountering some more civilians. Pvt. Bruce got a little rough-handed on a female civilian, who completely surprised him by turning around and lunging for him, trying to claw and bite the trooper. There was general confusion, and Fender ordered the civilian restrained, which Bruce happily did with the butt of his rifle and some zip ties. Around the same time, the dog Baton had joined Dastevan who was still wondering what to do with the civilian he’d encountered. The dog’s hackles were up and he was barking furiously. Just to be sure, Dastevan pinned the civilian down and tied him up. The colonist was finally showing signs of life, struggling and snarling. It was obvious at this point that something was seriously wrong with the colonists. The medic Leroy suspected some kind of mass hysteria or possibly a strain of rabies or something similar, and advised everyone to be cautious when approaching the civilians.

Sgt. Kendrick observes the situation while Pvt. Adeyemi looks on

Sgt. Kendrick observes the situation while Pvt. Adeyemi looks on

Pvt. Mourtada, the Skyhawk heavy

Pvt. Mourtada, the Skyhawk heavy

The Skyhawk leader Lt. Dircks had recovered the computer and was making his way towards the landing zone. A civilian wandered closer, and Dircks shot him down with his heavy pistol. Gunfire was now ringing all around the small town as the PMCs let rip into the townsfolk who were, to the mercenaries’ horror, getting up even with grievous bullet wounds. The noise was also starting to draw in more and more of Adderall Field’s residents, who seemed to be getting more aggressive by the moment. Unlike the PMCs, the Utopia troops were utilizing non-lethal methods, bringing the civilians down and restraining them. Pvt. Leroy approached one civilian: “We’re here to help. Sir, just relax and stay still while I look at your injuries. Sir! Please hold still sir! Sir, stop I will be forced to restrain you!”

Pvt. Leroy approaches the civilians

Pvt. Leroy approaches the civilians

Sgt. Fender got on the intercom and tried to reach the Skyhawk operatives but to no avail. “Private DiGlaeser, let the dropship know that the Skyhawk bastards will not be leaving before they explain what the hell they’re doing!” DiGlaeser started relaying the message only to find out it wasn’t happening: “Sir, it seems the Skyhawk unit is jamming our transfer!” Frustrated, Fender hailed the medic: “Leroy, what’s up with the civilians?” “Sir, these people are far beyond our help…it seems they’re..well, dead.” With some relish Fender finally gave the order: “Squad sixteen, civilians are now considered hostile targets, fire at will!” The order was well timed, since a group of the undead civilians was converging on the medic Leroy and Pvt. Lau who had reluctantly come to Leroy’s aid. Pvt. Bruce joined in, as did Pvt. Swartz. With the sniper Cohl providing assistance from above, the troopers started clearing the situation.

While this was going on, things were getting personal for Sgt. Fender as a group of four civilians closed on his dog, Baton. “Hold on, boy!” Fender shouted, heading to aid the dog. Baton, being a genetically enhanced combat mastiff, wasn’t in too much trouble, pulling one assailant after another to the ground. With Dastevan stepping to the dog’s aid, the attackers were quickly eliminated. More were pouring in ceaselessly, so the 16th decided to pull back, even Abdul coming down from his safe roof.

The Skyhawk PMCs tried to do the same, but they had hung back a bit too long and with the civilians closing in en masse, the soldiers were running out of room to maneuver. Pvt. Privalov’s gun jammed, and as he was clearing it, a group of the undead swarmed him and bore him to the ground. Corporal Thoreaux, the PMC sniper could only watch through his scope as the attackers tore into Privalov’s flesh, obscuring him from a mercy shot.

Pvt. Privalov is swarmed by the undead

Pvt. Privalov is swarmed by the undead and Sgt. Kendrick can’t help him

Cpl. Thoreaux looks on as Privalov is eaten

Cpl. Thoreaux looks on as Privalov is eaten

Sergeant Kendrick, Lt. Dircks’ NCO gave the order to retreat right before getting attacked himself and suffering the same fate as Privalov scant moments before. Pvt. Adeyemi ran full tilt towards the troopers of the 16th, while Dircks and his heavy, Pvt. Mourtada, were attacked. Mourtada gave his assailant, a little boy of maybe 10 years, a heavy combat boot in the face and darted off after Adeyemi. “Come back here your rat bastard [expletive]s!” Lt. Dircks roared at his men, as two civilians attacked him from behind. After a brief struggle, Dircks managed to free himself from the attackers and ran after Adeyemi and Mourtada, carrying the computer and sullenly handing it over to a waiting Sgt. Fender. As the PMCs were hurriedly led to the landing zone disarmed and at gunpoint, the undead townsfolk were left moaning and snarling and fighting over the remains of Privalov and Kendrick. It was time to leave 311-Krugman behind.

The Skyhawk team collapses

The Skyhawk team collapses

As the factory manager’s files were decrypted and the PMCs questioned, it turned out that Adderall Field wasn’t quite the agricultural vehicle and tool manufactory it was supposed to be, but rather a site for some very suspect bio-weapons research. Sambreel had intended for the PMCs to retrieve their data and leave the 16th to hang – and met with a resounding failure. The already tense relationship between the Union and the corporations and security firms were not going to improve soon.

Hey, an actual victory for the 16th! For once, everything went swimmingly, and the squad performed like professionals. Additionally, this was one of the most cinematic games we’ve had, capturing the zombie movie vibe very nicely. The fall of the PMCs wasn’t consciously set up. Instead they just suffered a bout of some horrible dice rolling combined with some very unfortunate rolls for the zombies, and ended up essentially recreating the biker scene from Dawn of the Dead.

I loved the way my players handled this scenario, as their RPG experience really showed. While the players knew perfectly well they were dealing with zombies, their characters didn’t, and so they acted accordingly, trying to save civilian lives. This was a great example of the warpg-style gameplay that I’ve been advocating (see earlier posts here and here) – putting fun and a good story ahead of winning mechanically.

The scenario also allowed me to use my zombie miniatures for the first time in ages, which made me a happy panda!

 

 

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