Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Rubber suits and stetsons



One of the most appealing aspects of our hobby for me is how many of us can effortlessly switch between the most contrastive genres and gaming systems without even a raised eyebrow. Or any irony. Or even registering the incredulity of our long suffering other halves! Take the last few days for example. I’ve played the part of a gravelly voiced Superhero and led a posse of Old West Lawman attempting - and failing miserably - to bring order to a frontier town. But I had a blast whilst doing it!

________________________________________________________________________________

At the weekend, I arrived home after a long day’s mountaineering in the Scottish hills (like my wargaming, my interests are quite contrary too!) only to find that my son and visiting brother-in-law John - finding the Battleshed in disarray - had decided instead to turn a side room of the house into Gotham City.  A huge and rather an impressive tower was, well - towering - over a miniature Gotham suburb. There was even a Bat Signal on its highest platform.

So, Ironman John (the sporty, spandex wearing Ironmen - and women - not the megalomaniac, armour clad Iron Man) had finally put together the mighty North Point Tower from 4Ground. A kit that he’d somehow managed to jam into his backpack from our Salute trip back in April. You'd think he was smuggling floor tiles by the shape of it. His backpack was heavier but his wallet was considerably lighter! It's a whopping 270mm x 200mm x 540mm. I can see why it took him so long to do; so many windows! It was complimented by the South Point Tenement (2). They both look fantastic on the table. I'm going to have to 'borrow' them sometime!

The obligatory expensive cars were out on the streets again, along with the familiar street furniture archetypes. Flashbacks to All Things Zombie the previous week. But this time there were no herds, staggers, moans, or rot (not this again!) of zombies. There was even a billboard advertising 'John's City Gun Shop' – which my brother-in-law denied was his doing. Pure coincidence apparently. Aye, right! So this was another chance to have a go at Batman, the Miniatures game.

Ironman John likes the whole Superhero thing. He owns an enormous collection of comics. No really, shelves and shelves of the things. Pristine, wrapped in their little plastic jackets. That scene from The Big Bang Theory comes to mind when Penny threatens to draw a hidden tiny happy face - in ink - on one of the comics from Sheldon’s collection. I’ve witnessed a vein throbbing in John’s forehead when he’s watching that! I reckon there must be some psychological link between his sporting apparel and his superhero predilection. Just saying.

Anyway, back to Batman. Our first play was way back in January when I went over the basic game mechanics. This second game, hosted by John and with only a couple of minor rule corrections on our part, was pretty much more of the same. Except there were three of us playing, and I played Batman! I needed a throat lozenge afterwards. “I’m batman!” My son played The Joker and his motley retinue, whilst John had someone called Mr. Black Mask. No idea why. To start, we all placed three objective markers each and basically it was a version of Capture the Flag, except with Batclaws and exploding chattering teeth.

As Sam Pate can no doubt attest, whenever my son and I end up playing, shifty shenanigans are the name of the game. I won’t even bother with an AAR. Let’s just say that Batman, (“I’m Batman”), spent a suspiciously long time down the sewers with Killer Croc for a good part of the scenario, to eventually emerge atop the North Point Tower using his bat Claw to imitate Spiderman’s modus operandi, swooping down to reach an objective marker placed on a third-story balcony. Oblivious to the fact that his crew were being all shot up or mangled by brawny hammer-wielding muscle men in ridiculously tight and brightly coloured pants.

No doubt DC fans out there will know what’s what. I can just about recognise Batman (“I’m Batman”). Which kinda’ led me asking, in all sincerity, how Bruce Wayne managed that outfit if he was suddenly, um, ‘caught short’ - if you know what I mean? That led to one of those hopelessly geeky ‘discussions’ whilst I couldn’t get Billy Connolly’s old joke about a fart in a spacesuit coming to mind. But I digress. 

Each gang accumulated points depending on the type of objective they controlled, (Riddles, Ammo crates and Loot). Plans were raised and the mayhem commenced. Lots of dice were rolled and multiple markers placed. Mr Mask's gradual flanking tactic won through in the end. Followed by The Joker, who despite his protestations, was most definitely ‘camping’. Batman’s crew were pretty much decimated in the crossfire whilst the vacuum-packed one himself remained on the balcony hugging a statue and trying to look menacing with his legs crossed. Best of all though, it was all a bloody good fun!

So, where do Old West Lawmen come into all this? By Monday I was heading to my wargaming club with half of Obsession, my Old West town, in the back of the car with another gaming buddy, Misbehavin' Jamie, ridin' shotgun. It was time for some straight shootin’ Dead Man’s Hand! Another system that I hadn’t played in a while but always garners interest whenever set up. I still had the custom 'character gang cards' and their respective decks neatly bundled with elastic bands ready to go from their last demo at the club back in January. I played the Lawmen. Its the law.

We had two simultaneous games going in each half of the board and it wasn’t long before the outrageously cinematic Old West stooshie ensued, replete with comical player poker faces! DMH is just one of those obliging systems where the rules don’t get in the way of actually playing. And they’re easy to pick up even after a long gap between games. 

It looks like I’m down to do it all again next week, although this time I’m considering debuting Obsession’s outskirts – the ‘Mountain’ and ‘Livery’ boards. These two have never been removed from the Battleshed before. I must admit, I’m a little apprehensive as the mountain board, in particular, is quite heavy. I’ll just have to drive like an elderly vicar to get it to the club without it turning it into a landslide board instead. Our roving reporter will be on hand tapping out his telegraph copy for us readers sometime next week.



Lastly, a bit of plugging for a new spin-off blog from Wee Blokes, dedicated to all things 15mm, cunningly titled ‘15mmSkirmish.blogspot.com'. It’s a project that I know Sam Pate has been keen to undertake for quite a while, and I think having a dedicated blog focused on a facet of his hobby he’s keen to explore will be useful for him and many of our fellow hobbyists out there. He's still digitally whittling and polishing the site but good luck to him from Battleshed Diaries!

Of course, I’m still under the deluded impression that 15mmSkirmish is just the latest salvo from the Axis of Miniscule Miniature’s arsenal, Sam and his counterpart Jimboba over at Warchest. Their latest attempt to lure me from the path of Righteous 28mm. But my readers should know me well enough by now. I’ll stay strong, I’ll never be swayed by…