Sunday, March 24, 2024

Majestic 13: Operation Trailer Trash

 I've been feeling a lot of stress lately with the upcoming move and all, and my wife encouraged me to get the table cleared of and set up for a game. Given that I'd just finished two monsters for Majestic 13, I decided to get set up for the next game in my ongoing campaign. It's time for another installment of Keel's Killers versus alien monsters.

I rolled up a Poisoned Lasher as the enemy du jour; a clever hunter with long tentacles and poisoned attacks, with a special move that allowed it to drag Agents across the board and inflict all sorts of harm. Unfortunately, I rolled a FUBAR event on the first turn, and a second monster showed up. This second monster was a Jel Brute - a hulking, heavily-armored creature that can punch through steel plate and generate shockwaves by punching the ground. 

Activating first, the Lasher charged Agent Klass, hitting him with a flurry of tentacle strikes that left him Poisoned and Restrained. Meanwhile, Arnold and Barker II moved to engage the Jel Brute, firing ineffectively into the creature's armored carapace. 

Klass was unable to break the creature's grip, and the Lasher dragged him to the roof of the Atomic Gas Station; a journey that Klass did not survive.

The Jel Brute stunned Barker II, and then charged him, crushing him to a pulp beneath its powerful fists. Moseley sniped at the Brute with minimal effectiveness.

The Lasher and the Brute then convened on Agent Arnold; the Lasher struck the killing blows on her.

The Brute then turned its attention to Agent Keel, while the Lasher lunged for Moseley. Keel tried to Call for Aid without success, and before the end of Turn 3, the entire team was wiped out.

Ouch! I'd done fairly well through the last few games of Majestic 13, so I guess I was due for a game where nothing went right. As soon as the FUBAR result came up "second monster" I knew this wasn't going to be a game where Keel's Killers did well. I don't think I was prepared for just how fast the team would be put out of action. 

Rolling into the post-game phase, Keel, Klass and Moseley recovered just fine; Barker II has permanent brain damage (-2 to his Acuity stat) and Arnold is going to miss next game due to some persistent, questionable wounds. I tried requisitioning a Targeting HUD for Moseley and a VTOL with landing pad for the base, but both requests were lost in the labyrinthine bureaucracy of Majestic 13. 

I've got some more 3D printed monsters on the way for Majestic 13, and I've ordered a few more teams of operatives; a buddy of mine just bought a house and we were in his new basement man cave/gaming room yesterday. While showing off the new D&D table he'd built from scratch, he proposed getting some skirmish gaming in on it, and I feel like some co-op games of Majestic 13 would be a good fit.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Two More Aliens for Majestic 13

 I've gotten as far as I can with my cave people and cave bear right now; we've got some late season snow all of the sudden after a very mild winter so no taking them outside to prime. 

In the meantime, I've finished up two 3D-printed monsters for my games of Snarling Badger's "Majestic 13." These were purchased from "TranscendentalPrints" on Etsy, after Mr. Martin gave them a shout-out on his blog. These were really high quality prints, arrived super clean, well packed and quickly. I'm sure I'll be ordering from them again soon (much to my wife's chagrin, I think) and highly recommend them. 

These are both monsters from the Cthulhu Mythos which, if you've been around here for a while, you'll know is dead center in my wheelhouse; I've been lucky enough that I've been able to publish RPG scenarios for both the venerable Call of Cthulhu RPG, as well as more recently for Cthulhu Eternal, an open-source alternative ruleset. 

First up is a Flying Polyp - these creatures first appeared in Lovecraft's story "The Shadow Out of Time," in which they were mortal enemies of the scholarly mollusks known as the Great Race of Yith. Only partially existing in the physical world and capable of generating and controlling winds, the Polyps are a nasty threat to deal with in any game system. I got mine printed at 75mm tall, which ended up being big enough that it needed a 3" base to stand on.

The sculpt here seems like it was influenced by Loic Muzy's illustration for the 7th edition Call of Cthulhu rulebook, with its swirling, spiraling body and fang-lined circular mouth:

Over a black basecoat, I gave it a heavy drybrush of Reaper's "Deep Ocean," followed by progressively lighter drybrushes of "Marine Teal" and finally "Surf Aqua." I wanted the eyes to be kind of flat and deadened, so I gave them a simple coat of Vallejo "Gory Red" with no pupils or highlights; the tongue and the inside of the mouths were Reaper "Light Violet Red" washed with GW "Druchii Violet" then re-highlighted with Light Violet Red. Finally, I picked out the teeth in Reaper "Stained Ivory," washed with GW "Seraphim Sepia" and highlighted with "Creamy Ivory." 

I'll tell you right now, my wife is not a fan of this figure and has called it "Satan's sea cucumber" and told me I owed her ice cream for showing it to her. 

The second figure I got is a "Star Vampire" - these creatures first appeared in the short story "The Shambler From The Stars" by Robert Bloch (of PSYCHO fame), in which famously one eats a thinly-disguised version of H.P. Lovecraft. I actually did write an RPG scenario around this creature some years ago, but due to copyright issues I can't publish it. This figure was printed at 50mm tall and is on a 40mm Renedra round base. 

Again, the influence of Loic Muzy's creature design is undeniable:

The challenge in painted a Star Vampire is that these creatures are normally invisible; only becoming visible while feeding, as the blood they drink is pumped through their body, giving them a reddish coloration until it's digested. So I opted to just not worry about that.

I gave the whole creature a base coat of Reaper "Worn Olive" over a black primer coat, then washed it liberally with GW "Athonian Camoshade." Once dry, I gave it an all over drybrush of Vallejo "Dead Flesh" (the same color I use for my orcs). The mouth/feeding tube I gave two coats of Reaper "Light Violet Red," then washed with "Druchii Violet" and highlighted with Light Violet Red. I then gave it a light drybrush of Reaper "Heart Throb Pink" to brighten it up some; the color choice may have been a mistake because it kind of looks like the world's angriest rectal prolapse but maybe that just adds to the horror of it all.

In a nod to the source fiction, I used GW's OOP "Bloodletter Glaze" to glaze the tentacles red, with each coat getting progressively more concentrated towards the tips. A very light drybrush of "Dead Flesh" towards the base of each tentacle smoothed the transition between green and red. Finally I picked out the teeth using the same formula I used on the Flying Polyp: Stained Ivory - Seraphim Sepia wash - Creamy Ivory highlight. 

I'll get the bases finished today or tomorrow, and then hopefully Monday the weather will be warm enough that I can take them outside and hit them with some spray varnish. 

Also, my wife says I need to paint some puppies or kittens after this.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Beginning the Wolf Tribe

 So, I know I said I wasn't sure when I'd start on painting more prehistoric figures, aaaaaand...I've started. Well, getting them cleaned up and glued to bases at least. I've been struggling through a hobby slump - I've only managed to actually get paint on a single piece of scatter terrain this month. Insomnia's been a big issue for me, and that combined with day job and being a caregiver for my wife, who has an autoimmune condition...I don't have a lot of energy left at the end of the day so just sitting down at the hobby desk has felt a bit like scaling Everest lately. 

I've been really fixated on the prehistoric stuff lately - reading through rulesets, examining different companies' offerings in terms of mammoths and mastodons, watching "Quest for Fire" and "Clan of the Cave Bear" - and I'm hoping I can re-invigorate myself by getting work done towards playing more prehistoric games. 


Over the past two days, I've gotten 15 figures cleaned (even filing mold lines!) and glued to bases. These are all from Lucid Eye Publications' Savage Core line, and comprise two packs of Cro-Magnon warriors with javelins and atlatls, two packs of "Age of Ice" Amazons with bows (and one blowgun!) and some heroic leader-types. They're all anatomically modern humans (no Neanderthal brow ridges here) dressed warmly in tanned hides and fur cloaks so should mesh together fairly well. I'm calling them the Wolf Tribe, since one of the heroes is the shamanic-looking "Wolf Mother" clad in a wolf pelt. 

The goal is to have a pool of figures I can draw from for any prehistoric wargame I please; I can split these up into two opposing forces for Lucid Eye's "Savage Core" game, for example, or I can treat them as a pool to pull from when building a hunting party for "Tusk" or "Palaeo Diet." And what I've got right here can be a Warlord, two Heroes, and two Formations for Mana Press' skirmish game "Tribal." I've got an eye towards picking up another two packs of Savage Core Cro-Magnons for a more robust Tribal warband.

I'm also considering converting one Cro-Magnon and one Amazon to be holding torches; both Tusk and Palaeo Diet offer rules for starting fires to drive game, and I'd like to be able to play with those rules.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Tusk: Ground Sloth Hunt

 It's been a couple weeks since I've gotten anything on the table to play with, or even to paint for that matter. I did get another few sets of prepainted trees from Monster Fight Club, and wanted to get them on the table, so for simplicity's sake I set myself up for a couple rounds of Wessex Games' Tusk. I've got a lot of unpainted cavemen in a box in my closet and I hate playing unpainted, so I used the same batch of Lucid Eye cavemen that I used in my last game back in December. I still don't have a mammoth purchased or painted, but I did find a Reaper Bones giant prehistoric ground sloth that I painted a few years back so that was today's substitute megafauna. 

I played twice, but only took pictures of the first game since my phone was low battery. Both games lasted about 15 minutes and ended with the ground sloth being run down and killed; also in both games, Og the Hero (here portrayed by Lucid Eye's "Muok Mangod") got squished while trying to show off for his tribe. He's got a 50-50 chance of either killing the prey animal in one hit or getting killed himself, and so far on my tables it's been 100% "Og bites it."


The one thing I really haven't done that I should do for Tusk is get some fire and smoke markers prepped. Tusk offers rules for cavemen to start fires and try to hem prey in or herd them towards cliffs or marshes to kill them. The fires, once started, spread with the wind and can get out of control, even turn around and and threaten the cavemen.I think that would add a very different tactical element; as is, my painted cavemen run in with their clubs and on a 10+ on 2D6 kill the mammoth/ground sloth/Brontosaurus etc. which makes for very fast games. 

I'm not sure when I'll get more cavemen painted; my wife and I are moving to a new city this summer so I know I'll be winnowing down my collection somewhat over the next couple months to minimize what we're moving. I also want to work on being better about being less of a hobby mayfly and really focus on one project at a time for six months or a year; for 2025 I really want that focus to be on prehistoric wargaming. Tusk, Savage Core, and Mana Press' "Tribal" are all on my list of games I want to try playing with painted cavemen of various types, and I've heard good things about Ganesha Games' "Palaeo Diet" - it's been described to me as "Tusk on steroids" so I'll be picking that up at some point. Cavemen and various prehistoric animals will be a great painting project, plus terrain; not just natural stuff like hills and rocks, but villages, idols, etc.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Majestic 13: Special Mission "Ambush"

 I've played another game?! Yes! I did not sleep well (or much) last night, and decided three hours of sleep in the ol' tank was not enough to fuel me through an 8 hour work day, grocery shopping and cooking dinner. So I took a personal day, did my grocery shopping early when the store was practically empty, kept meals simple for my wife and I, and allowed myself the luxury of a restorative solo game. After all, this is a special round of Majestic 13 - my first "Special Mission."

The sinister invaders known as FORCE have taken note of my team, and dispatched a strike team of FORCE troopers to eliminate them. To represent FORCE on the tabletop, I painted up a half-dozen "Ferox Mercenaries" from Khurasan Miniatures - this is a company that I think has flown under a lot of peoples' radars, but they make some really cool stuff in both 15 and 28mm scale, their castings were super clean and their customer service excellent and friendly. I've assembled them with helmeted heads and painted them with Turbodork colorshift metallics - "Laserface" (which shifts maroon to yellow-green) for their armor and "Let Them Eat Cake" (dark blue to red-violet) for the gun casings. Some details in silver (washed with Nuln Oil) and the eyes on the helmet picked out in Vallejo Fluorescent Green and they were done. 

I really need to make more trees my next terrain investment.

A lot of this game boiled down to figures moving from one piece of cover to another, taking pot shots, and moving back towards other pieces of cover, so I'll just highlight a few key moments.

I also finally got everyone's name written on their bases.

I successfully upgraded my team's base defenses following the last game, meaning each of these FORCE troopers took 1D6+3 damage before the game even started. I rolled really well, and two of the aliens started play with 21 HP instead of their customary 30. This really helped me out a lot. 

Turn 1, Agent Moseley (newly equipped with a sniper rifle) took up a position behind the chimney of an old, abandoned cabin, and on Turn 2, he scored a critical hit on FORCE Trooper # 2, killing it. Boom, headshot. Even better, both he and Agent Arnold succeeded on their saving throws to avoid taking damage when Trooper #2 subsequently imploded. Yes, the FORCE troopers implode on death, to insure that their technology doesn't fall into human hands. Stingy bastards. 

Turn 3, Agents Klass and Barker were temporarily blinded by an alien grenade. Both agents cleared their vision, returning fire. Turn 4, another grenade was thrown, again blinding Barker. This is becoming a theme with him after the last game. 

Immediately following this, Agent Arnold successfully Called for Aid on Turn 4, calling in a drone strike against the FORCE troopers. An attack roll was made successfully against each of the five remaining troopers, and the damage dealt was enough to kill three (#s 1, 4 and 5) of them simultaneously, while reducing the remaining two to low single-digit hit points. Unfortunately, the rolling wave of concussive implosions took both Agent Barker and Agent Moseley out of action as well, and left Agent Klass stunned. 

The remainder of Turn 4 and Turn 5 were spent mopping up the remaining two FORCE troopers. Keel's Killers were successful in their mission, though they paid a price for their victory.

Rolling into the post-game, while Agent Moseley recovered quickly and will be good to go for the next mission, Agent Barker succumbed to his injuries, his internal organs pulverized into jelly by three concussive implosions. Majestic 13 is loathe to let a good agent go though, and a clone of Agent Barker was decanted and added to the Keel's Killers roster; an imperfect and slightly weakened copy of the original, Barker II is nonetheless a welcome addition to the team. 

He died doing what he loved; shooting aliens until he went blind.

Following that, my team's requests to requisition new gear got lost in the bureaucratic maze of Majestic 13, but I did successfully add another upgrade to my base; an Emergency Medical Facility was built, which will hopefully reduce my losses in the future. I know I've been really lucky so far in not having characters die every mission, but the loss of even one good soldier is too much. 

What's next? Well, uh...I only have three more painted monsters that can serve as aliens on hand, and I have no idea what I'm going to use for my FORCE Shock Troopers in the next special mission yet. So I might have to slow my roll a little bit with how many games I'm playing and spend more time painting.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Majestic 13: Operation Eye Exam

 What's this? Another game report already? Yes, I know it's rare that I actually play more than one game a month, but I had a couple reasons to set up for another game of Majestic 13 after Monday's game. First and foremost, it's just fun. Second, to inaugurate some newly finished terrain - a set of three prepainted MDF residential trailers from Black Site Studios. And three, I'm trying to take better care of my mental health this year and one of the things I've found to be really good for me is getting the table cleared off and playing games. 

I had started the BSS trailer park kit back in November, gotten side tracked, and came back and finished the last unassembled trailer (as well as gluing all the windows into all three trailers) this week while riding the high of Monday's game. Between these, the Bingo Hall (also from BSS), gas station and the 3D-printed doughnut shop, I'm able to put together a properly dense urban table, and that makes me really happy. 


So for tonight's mission, Keel's Killers were assigned to hunt down an "Ocular Enigma," an elusive and stealthy creature with the ability to inflict psychosomatic blindness on anyone trying to harm it; as a secondary mission, they needed to collect two supply drops on the monster's side of the table. The characters who collected each drop would receive a +1 to damage rolls for the remainder of the game. The Killers are, as always, from Hasslefree Miniatures, while the Ocular Enigma is a Reaper Bones "Hivewarden" I painted back in 2018 with an eye towards using in Fistful of Lead: Galactic Heroes as a pulpy Big-Eyed Monster.

I also had an interloper early on that threatened to make the game much more challenging:

Fortunately, he was lured off the table before he sneezed on any of my MDF. 

The first two turns were a bit clown shoes; the Killers were passing their saves to avoid blindness, but failing their attack rolls or succeeding and rolling minimum (or nearly minimum) damage. For it's part, the Ocular Enigma just skedaddled around its half of the board, moving from cover to cover to try and avoid being seen. 

Johanna Keel got close, lined up a shot, passed her blindness...and then, because the creature had partial cover behind the dumpster, needed to roll twice and take the worse result for her attack roll.

Could have been a critical hit, but not. Critical fumble. Thanks dice. Turn 2 also saw our FUBAR result for the game:


A Time-Space Distortion struck abruptly; most of the Killers maintained their footing, but Agent Arnold was flung 11" off the doughnut shop roof, taking falling damage on top of the damage from the FUBAR. The Enigma was also bounced off a chain-link fence by the distortion, dealing more damage than the Killers had up to that point. 

Turn 3, Agent Barker was struck blind by the Enigma, while Agents Arnold and Keel managed to seize the two supply objectives. 

Keel wasn't alone however, with the Enigma sneaking up behind her. Moseley was struck blind by the creature, as was Keel when she activated again; the monster, seizing the opportunity, lashed out with its "Poisonous Visions" attack; both Keel and Moseley, despite being blind, are assailed with disorienting, nauseating visions, dealing psychic damage to both of them and inflicting the "Poisoned" status effect on both of them, halving their movement until it's cleared. The monster then darted for its next patch of cover (I imagine it making the Zoidberg "woop-woop-woop-woop" noise as it goes). 

I have tokens for the "Stunned" and "Pinned" conditions, but I really need to get proper "Blinded" and "Poisoned" ones for Majestic 13.

Agent Arnold, sick of the monster's shit, called in a drone strike on Turn 4. Moseley, clearing his Blindness but not his Poisoned status, and Klass managed to get their respective acts together and start putting lead into the Enigma, while Barker remains Blinded. 

Seeing an opening, the Enigma scales the doughnut shop to attack still-blind Barker despite having taken enough damage to activate its "Extremis" state (in which it takes bonus damage but gains an extra action). Klass and Arnold both manage to shoot the creature again, while Keel and Moseley, both still Poisoned, attempt to limp into position for another shot. 


Unfortunately, the mission ended then with the conclusion of Turn 5; the monster was sitting pretty at 7 hit points out of its original 115. One more turn (or one fewer failed shooting rolls) and this could have been a victory.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about the design decision to have games last exactly 5 turns, no more; I think it's an excellent decision that forces strategic thinking beyond simply outlasting the monster and keeps games from degenerating into slogs. 

Rolling in the post-game, I did pretty well since nobody was put Out of Action by the monster; everyone boosted their Combat skill rating (and Barker also boosted his Dexterity), and the Bureaucracy approved one of my two requested sniper rifles (assigned to Moseley) and my base upgrade: Keel's Killer's center of operations now boasts "Upgraded Point Defense Systems," which means whenever I undertake a Special Mission (in which I'm fighting directly against the soldiers of FORCE, the alien organization dropping monsters on Earth), my enemies start the game down by 1D6+3 hit points. 

This is particularly useful, since my team rating has advanced to "3" which means my next mission is my first Special Mission. Which means I better get my FORCE strike team painted up soon.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Majestic 13: Operation Mud Bath

 It's been a while since I've cleared the table off and had a solo game for myself, and going through my stuff as my wife and I prepare to move house this summer got me itching for another game of Majestic 13. I decided to follow up on my previous game, and play mission two of what is shaping up to be a meandering, irregular campaign. 

After a few dice rolls, I determined that my team of operatives, "Keel's Killers," would be entering an urban environment to A) try to take down a monster called a "Terraformer," capable of reshaping the landscape around it, and B), retrieve a series of medical supply caches. 

First action of the game, the Terraformer moved to the center of the table, turning every piece of non-scatter terrain into "Dangerous Terrain" - any time one of my operatives entered or climbed on top of one of these buildings or hills, they'd need to roll a D6; on a roll of 4+, they'd take 2D6 damage from monster-induced instability. 

The operatives opened fire from their various positions, raining lead down on the towering fungoid nightmare. The creature responded by charging the nearest operative it could see, which turned out to be Agent Arnold; lashing out with its dripping pseudopods, it rolled a critical hit with one of them; then, at the beginning of the second turn, it activated again and rolled a staggering double critical! Arnold was pounded into the ground before she could respond.

At that point, Klass opted to fire a quick round into the monster and retreat into the bingo hall, tagging the first of the three medical caches. Keel, Barker and Moseley continued to move and fire at the creature, with Moseley drawing the creature's attention. 

The Terraformer charged, striking Moseley with a tendril and Stunning him with neurasthenic slime. Barker charged in and hit Moseley with a set of shock pads, clearing the Stunned condition and buying Moseley time to race to the Donut Worry and access the second medical cache.

the healing power of a Boston Creme.

Falling back towards the gas station, Barker's next action was to radio in a drone strike. The call went through, and Lockheed Martin answered with gusto. 

Shaking the flames off itself, the Terraformer followed Barker towards the gas station, striking him with a tentacle and scoring a fourth critical hit for this game. Keel, Moseley and Klass drew the monster's attention while Barker entered the gas station and hit the third and final medical cache. 

It might be less a medical cache and more a pack of smokes and a questionable hot dog.

Moseley was taken out of action by the creature's punishing strikes, and Barker emerged from the gas station to score a critical hit on the monster. This was the end of turn 5 and the last of our heroes' actions; the Terraformer activated one last time and smashed into Barker, leaving him with 1 hit point as the game ended. The monster wasn't defeated, but it was a damn close thing; when the game ended it was at 11 hit points, down from the 140 it started with. 

Going into the post-mission phase of the game, Arnold and Moseley both recovered fully from their injuries and will be available to take part, unscathed, in the next mission. The team's efforts to requisition a pair of sniper rifles were denied, but they were able to upgrade their base with a Combat Training Center; Arnold, Moseley and Barker all boosted their Combat rating following the mission, while Keel and Klass improved their Dexterity. The team's overall rating improved from 1 to 2. 

Overall, I'm really pleased with how the game went, even if I didn't successfully defeat the monster. The fact that I rolled four natural 20s on the monster's attacks definitely aided its survival - I wish I could roll like that in my D&D game. I do feel like I'm getting a better handle on not just playing the game as a whole (though I did forget to make FUBAR rolls after the second turn), but on using my team effectively; I definitely need to upgrade my weaponry after next game (if my bureaucracy rolls succeed), because more firepower is absolutely called for.