Sunday 27 January 2013

Buyer's Remorse: FoW "Achtung" Starter Set

Christchurch's sole remaining Friendly Local Comics-&-Games Store, Comics Compulsion, recently put some Flames of War stuff on sale at heavily reduced prices, so I nabbed some. Among the stuff I got was a copy of Achtung, a starter set for FoW put out by Battlefront a while ago, marked down to thirty bucks.

It includes an A5 softcover copy of the rules, an A4 pamphlet aimed at absolute beginners, some dice, and — the reason I bought it — five 1:100 plastic kits; two StuG III and three Sherman V. I thought that $30 would be an OK price to pay for five more basic vehicle models.

Boy, was I wrong.

I haven't tried building the StuGs yet, but the Sherman is a truly awful kit. The fit of the parts is terrible, with great gaping gaps being left in unmistakably obvious areas, even after considerable trimming and dry-fitting.

The hull needs a LOT of filling right along both edges to make it look anywhere near acceptable, and the glacis doesn't even come close to marrying up to the drive housing.

The starboard track/hull-side component is especially bad, and needs a lot of attention before it will sit square to the hull.

Although in theory these simplified models are supposed to provide a quick and easy force for a new player, they are not by any means suitable for a beginner modeller in spite of the low number of components.

To be absolutely fair, once all the work has been done, it does make a fair representation of a Sherman for wargaming purposes. But as a model it leaves much to be desired.

Note also that the Sherman on the cover of the box is not the same version as the kits provided inside, and there are no parts provided for the Cullin Hedgerow Cutter as shown in the box art.

I regret buying this, even marked down to half price. If I'd bought it for full price and found this kind of crap inside, I'd have been furious.

With cheaper, better quality competition in the 15mm WWII plastics market from companies like Zvezda or PSC now readily available, Battlefront are really going to have to lift their game considerably to stay around. This sort of poor-quality product just isn't going to cut it.

Thursday 24 January 2013

Magic items: Sentient potion bottles

This is an illustration by Willy Pogany from 1909, when he illustrated the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I've never really read the Rubaiyat myself, but judging by Pogany's illustrations, it's roughly 90% about naked dancing girls. Anyway.

These bottles were originally a set, but have long since been scattered to the four corners of the world through the vicissitudes of the years. Each one creates its own unique magical elixir (select potion type randomly, 1d3 doses per day), and each has its own personality. Some are cheerful and helpful, some are surly and obstructive, some are just supremely ennué. Most tend to be free with advice, even when that advice is just "Go fuck yourself".

They appear to be made of coloured translucent glass, but are considerably tougher than any normal glass. They are certainly not indestructible, however (AC 10, 1-6 d6 hit-points) and can be broken or melted with sufficient destructive persistence. They will heal damage like other living creatures, but do so at just one hit-point per day — they cannot benefit from healing magic, though a Mending spell might return a hit-point or two, depending on the generosity of the GM.

Monday 21 January 2013

HäT Zulu War Brits

Zulu War British Infantry
 HäT have released two more sets of soft plastic 25mm (1/72) Zulu War British infantry.

I'm not particularly interested in that particular period for wargaming, but these two sets are of great interest to me because, for a change, all the poses are useful for the wargamer, instead of being aimed at the "action toy" market.

Usually, in a set of plastic toy soldiers, you can pretty much guarantee that at least half the figures will be completely pointless for use on the wargames table, being posed in all kinds of weird actiony ways. In these two sets, there's not a single pose that would be wasted.

As I said before, I'm not that interested in the Zulu Wars, but I would be very interested in buying ten or twenty sets of these to be painted up as generic Red and Blue late 19th century armies.

Zulu War British Infantry Command

Thursday 3 January 2013

L is for Loser

The lamest D&D character I ever made was a half-elvish magic user called Boris, whose entire magical repertoire consisted of Read Magic and Friends. He had 2 hit-points and was eaten by a wolf.