Friday, December 16, 2011

Cops with Shotguns (Future Wars)


There are several kinds of people in an ATZ game: zombies, civilians, survivors, gangers, and military.  You need all of those to play a game, just because any could show up at any time.  Under "military" are the police, and so in order to fill out that requirement I picked up a blister pack of "Cops with Shotguns" by Future Wars (which is under the Copplestone Casting label).  In theory they are supposed to be futuristic (naturally), but I wanted to paint them up a little retro for my ATZ campaign.  These guys are armed with shotguns, pistols, and truncheons, and are led by a trenchcoat-wearing officer.

Once I get all of my categories filled out to a reasonable and workable extent, I'll be ready to start my ATZ campaign.  My goal is the beginning of 2012, and I seem to be on track for that goal.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Zombie Strippers

Click for a larger pic

These lovely ladies were made by Reaper Miniatures.  My only beef with them is that they are not particularly injured.  One has an open wound on her leg, another a sort of injury on her back, but the third is hardly wounded at all.  Maybe the bite is where we can't see it.

I decided to experiment with zombie skin colors.  In the past I've used a gray color, but this time I decided to use something a little more in the flesh tone range with a bit of green.  It's actually Delta Ceramcoat Sandstone with Antique Walnut Stain on top.  I think that, when all is said and done, it looks pretty good.

Comments welcome.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rufus, survivor


I scrounged around and found the last figure of the Street Violence blister set I owned, a guy who I guess is supposed to look like Rob Zombie or something.  Since I'm Robb, I decided to go with "Rufus" instead.  Rufus is armed with a grenade, a knife, a gun, and a drum-fed shotgun.  That's a pretty solid kit.  Maybe it is the gut and the big belt buckle, but he's got a good "survivor" vibe going for him.

In my inventory of the miniatures I have that might work in this range, I discovered I only had about a dozen zombies, and they are all the Wargames Factory ones.  So I ordered a horde of new miniatures from Zombiesmith on Black Friday (he had a sale, 18% off).  It might be a while before they get here, but in the meantime I have a few more I can be working on.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Stephanie, survivor


In anticipation of launching my solo ATZ campaign, I've been going through my giant collection of odd miniatures in hopes of finding ones that can be, if you'll forgive the term, cannibalized for participants in the game.
This figure is one of rarest I own, and is special to me because it is one that I helped design.  Many, many years ago a friend named Steve Eserin launched a miniatures and terrain company called "The Figure Trader."  To support the line, he created a very interesting game called "Sabotage."  I was asked by Steve to provide some of the concept sketches for the game, and even got my name on the book.  Or rather, I got this accidental pastiche between my real name and my internet handle that Steve apologized for later.  Sadly, The Figure Trader lost a ton of money as a vendor in the meltdown of i-kore,which subsequently declared bankruptcy, forced their debtors to write off the loss, and then had the assets purchased by a member of their own staff who relaunched the entire line as Urban Mammoth.  (As a sidenote, one of i-kores disgruntled sculptors went onto be the guy behind Hasslefree miniatures.  If you ever look at the Void 1.1 line, you'll see his hand in it.)
Anyways, as a thanks for being part of the creation of Sabotage, Steve sent me a ton of resin sci-fi terrain which I still use, as well as a bunch of miniatures, including quite possibility the entire casting lot of this one.  Somewhere I've got about two dozen of this figure, whom I named Stephanie in honor of Steve Eserin.  She's got a little of the cheesecake look to her, but I'm thinking a blowtorch is an interesting option as an improvisational weapon against zombies.
As a side note, despite some health problems Steve still works for Terragnosis, which you should really go check out.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Berkeley, Survivor


Hard to believe I haven't done anything on this project since July, but I got sidetracked by some other things.  Now I'm back, and starting things off with "Berkeley" from Reaper Miniatures.  She's a great looking fig, but she's armed with two of the most problematic weapons in ATZ: a shotgun and a chainsaw.  Both work just fine against zombies, but tend to draw more zombies like flies to honey.

If you read my primary blog, you know I'm kind of kicking about some various projects.  Well, I've decided to come back here.  I've been reading and re-reading the ATZ rules, and I think I know what one of my biggest hang-ups about the rules was, and I've come to grips with it.  Now it's time to get some figures, both alive and dead, painted up and ready to launch.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jolene


This is "Cyrise" from the Foundry Street Violence range, but I'm calling her "Jolene" which just sounds more Southern.  She's got a big pistol on her left hip, an SMG, and a knife and grenade(!) on her right hip.

Okay, I know there are a lot of zombie gaming enthusiasts, and I've got a question.  I need to bulk up my repertoire of zombies for my upcoming ATZ campaign.  I have the zombies from Wargames Factory already, but they look more like "zombie extras."  I'm looking for some front-row zombies, available in the US.  Suggestions?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Michelle, Survivor


I like this miniature for several reasons.  First, you don't get a lot of modern/post-apocalyptic figures that depict minorities.  Second, you don't find a lot that depict women.  Third, of the ones that do, many rely pretty heavily on racial stereotyping. 

So, this figure, which is actually from the old Dark Age miniatures game, depicts a minority woman who looks pretty bad-ass, and not like she's from a Krumm cartoon.  I named her after an old school friend with whom I continue to keep in touch.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book Review: Autumn

Interesting story behind Autumn by David Moody.  Apparently Moody, a fan of such books as War of the Worlds and movies like Night of the Living Dead, wanted to write his own horror novel but lacking any literary credentials couldn't get picked up by a publisher.  So, with the internet hitting its own (2003) he decided to give away the book for free.  A few hundred thousand downloads later, and he's sold the movie rights, started his own publishing house, and cranked out several sequels.  The movie came out in 2009--I may have to go check it out.

The story behind Autumn is that a (unrealistically) rapid, lethal virus kills off over 99% of the human population of the earth in what appears to be hours.  Now I'm no epidemiologist or a meteorologist, but I didn't think air currents could carry a germ that quickly.  But hey, I'm looking for good science from a zombie novel.  In an English town the handful of survivors first have to deal with the shock and collapse of civilization, followed by the revival of a fraction of the disease victims as zombies.

At first, the zombies aren't even dangerous--they are just wandering, mindless corpses, but later they start to home in on the living, and they significantly out number them.  There's no suggestion of contagious bite/kill stuff at play here, the zombies just seem to want to destroy anything that lives or more specifically makes noise.

The main characters are three survivors and most of the plot revolves around their group dynamic (what with the zombies not being threatening until almost halfway through the book).  The story also has the usual zombie fare: the grocery store pillaging, the crazy guy lifted straight out of the movie Psycho with the zombie family member (the same guy appeared in Dead Reckoning too), etc.  I also noticed that the main trio also closely resembled the central three characters from the movie Shallow Grave, including having one of them go up into the attic and spy on the others.

It's clear by the time you get to the end of the book that the author wanted to leverage this into something more.  There's no real ending, not even a cliffhanger.  The story just stops, awaiting the next novel in the series.  What's more, the characters are more interesting in the beginning of the story but sort of fritter away in terms of personality.  By the end they are just generic individuals working towards survival.  [SPOILER FOLLOWS]



What's worse, the most interesting character doesn't even make it to the end, and even that is foreshadowed so heavily it isn't much of an event.  I can't figure out if I want to give Autumn: the City a try just to see if the author starts to get into the good stuff (stuff that maybe he didn't want to give away for free) or just let this series go.  We'll see.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Movie Review: the Horde

The Horde popped up on Netflix online recently, and as it had come highly recommended I thought I would give it a try.  The Horde is a French film, with English subtitles, with an interesting zombie story set-up.  Four police officers launch a nighttime raid on a local Nigerian crimelord with the intent of avenging the death of a friend of theirs.  While inside the hulking, decrepit tenement the gangster uses as a base, the world is suddenly swarmed with zombies.  The police and the criminals have to band together to survive fleeing the building in what feels vaguely like the plot of Assault on Precinct 13.

For those who care about such things, these are not "slow zombies" but full hard-on fast zombies (or "ragers" as we know them from ATZ), which is necessary because all the characters are so badass that they could waltz through a city full of slow zombies without losing a step.  Whatever makes the zombies also gives them a mouth full of razor-sharp fangs as well, just to add to their threat level.

Like most good zombie stories, the real story isn't just surviving the predatory horde but also the tension within the group, and not even each "side" gets along with itself.  The characters aren't terribly well developed, and oddly the criminals end up having more of their personality come through than the police (the theoretical protagonists of the story).  The huge, bleak, industrial building, surrounded by the city lit up by fires, explosions, and the sound of artillery does make for a great backdrop for the story.

A few notes for the zombie enthusiast.  Like many stories there is no "why" to the zombie outbreak, just the reaction.  Curiously, at the beginning of the story the zombies are merely people who die and then come back (the "hell has no room for you" zombie) but through most of the film are the contagious "get bit and you'll transform in about half an hour" zombie.  In an unfortunate and probably unintentional bit of cinematography one of the zombies is seen having their breath create mist on a window, so maybe they aren't really dead?  Who knows.

One picky thing I did like was that there is a "suspension of knowledge" in the film regarding zombies.  No one ever uses the phrase "zombies" and they are completely ignorant of the usefulness of head trauma, even though the zombies are only taken out once that occurs.  There's moments in most zombie films where some character has that "a ha" moment and then suddenly it is a head-shot-o-rama, but I realized that I was three quarters of the way through the film and the characters are continuing to pump shotgun rounds into the torsos of these guys.  There's no established qualities to these creatures, like there might be if they were, say, vampires or werewolves.  In fact, only one person seems to get how it all works, but he's so crazy that he is totally disregarded.  Touches like that are always appreciated.

The Horde was definitely better than your schlocky zombie movie, without succumbing to the jumpy, jarring cinematography prevalent in your "dark building" horror films these days.  Definitely a good pick for zombie movie night.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Private Detective


This figure is "Max Decker, Private Detective" from Reaper's Chronoscope series.  I love this figure, being a longtime fan of Dashiell Hammett and other gritty Noir writers.  In fact my fondness for him is what got me to call this blog "Hard Boiled Zombies."  Someday when I actually start my ATZ campaign, I may use this guy as the primary Star.

TV Repair Shop

This is the second in the three free cardstock buildings available from Microtactix at the Wargames Vault and elsewhere.


The building has a recessed doorway and roof, the latter of which gives a "lip" to provide cover should one need it.  Like the other Microtactix buildings, the signs are separate so that you could build duplicate buildings to flesh out your scenery.  I have considered the possibility of reinforcing walls with foamcore to make the buildings more durable and to prevent warping.

What's nice about cardstock buildings is that their construction is not time-consuming.  This small building was built within an hour, probably more like thirty minutes.  With all cardstock construction you really need four tools: an X-acto knife for cutting and scoring, a metal ruler (don't use a wooden or plastic one--I had to have a chunk of a finger stitched back on because of that mistake), a self-healing cutting board, and a glue pen like scrap-bookers use.  The glue pen is useful because the glue shows up blue but dries clear, is easily controlled,  and has little water so that it prevent warping.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Stinky's Pizza Place

Click to enlarge

A while back I was trying to figure out the best solution for creating the urban landscape for my ATZ campaign.  There seems to be four schools of thought:
1. Professionally made 25/28mm terrain.  While there are lots of fantasy and sci-fi ranges out there, modern ranges that are not Middle Eastern "adobe" are hard to come by, not to mention expensive.
2. HO or O Scale railroad terrain.  HO is really too small for 28mm and looks better in 1:72 or 15mm.  O Scale is also expensive, and really the terrain is made for static placement, not to be transported or moved.
3. Scratchbuilt.  I can actually do a fair job of this, but it is will either be quick or attractive, but not both.
4. Cardstock.  A lot of people go this route, including Vampifan from Vampifan's World of the Undead.  I've used cardstock terrain in the past with fantasy, and there's lots available out there.  With that in mind, I made my first piece today, "Stinky's Pizza" by Microtactix.
Microtactix's pieces are more cartoony than WorldWorksGames, but on the upside this particular piece is free and comes with separate signs so you can make up several buildings with different names on them.  This particular piece is also free from DriveThruRPG, making it an even better deal.  It isn't large, but I'm a believer in the "small terrain is better" school of thought.  Four 3" buildings look better on a table than one 12" building.  This set prints out on one page of cardstock, including both the signs and a dumpster (and a crummy looking cardstock delivery boy I won't be using).  Microtactix actually has three free buildings, each with separate signs so one could really do a nice start to a layout without laying out any money beyond the $15 for 250 pages of cardstock that will last your forever and the ink cartridges (probably the one downside to cardstock terrain, aside from general flimsiness).

If you have any experience or tips with cardstock terrain, feel free to share them.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review: Dead Reckoning

I am not a frequent reader of zombie novels, liking the movie option much better for my zombie fare (World War Z being a noteworthy exception) but I thought I would see if I could kick-start my ATZ zombie solo-campaign at my public library.  I picked up literally at random Dead Reckoning: Dawning of the Dead by Anthony Giangregorio.  Dead Reckoning is published by "Living Dead Press" which appears to do nothing but publish zombie novels.
To put it bluntly, Dead Reckoning is one step up from fan fiction, and it is a short step.  The book appears to be an unauthorized sequel to the movie Dawn of the Dead, featuring Fran and Peter from the movie.  In the preface the author admits to wanting to know what happened to them after they escaped the Philadelphia shopping mall, and decided to write story himself.
In Dead Reckoning Fran and Peter make their way to Pittsburgh where the non-zombie population has dwindled down to two groups, a group of relatively regular survivors lead by a man named Pearson, and a group of tough guys led by a man named Carver.  The two groups are in constant conflict over the remaining supplies in Pittsburgh, which now include the helicopter belonging to Fran and Peter.
What I liked about the book was, for all of its underwhelming narrative and lack of real horror, was the scenarios Giangregorio created pitching Pearson's survivors versus Carver's gangers.  Much of the book has the two groups battling over grocery stores and warehouses, and I could easily see converting these into any wargaming scene.  What was really lacking was the zombies being a legitimate threat.  The characters were too good at killing them, rarely missing when shooting them in the head or going into hand-to-hand.  Only fickle fate or gross incompetence seemed to really pose a problem.  The real peril is Carver, who is both more violent and possessing greater weaponry.
The ending is a huge meh, and frankly flies in the face of Giangregorio's stated desire to see a resolution to the plot of Dawn of the Dead.  Fran and Peter spend most of their (surprisingly limited) time in the book woolgathering about what happened in the film.  Given that he has written no less than eighteen other zombie novels for Living Dead Press, I'm sure he has ample opportunity to do so elsewhere, however.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Roger, Zombie Apocalypse Ganger


Here's another ganger from Foundry's Street Violence range.  Pretty soon I plan on actually doing some more typical survivors.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Roach and Gunther, Zombie Survivors

These guys were painted a while back and posted on my main blog, but I thought I would add them here.  They are Foundry Street Violence figures, but look good as either survivors or gangers, as the situation required.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Gary and Monty, civilians


The first two residents of River City are two figures from a blister pack called "the Gamers" or something like that.  I can not recall the manufacturer.  I'm calling them Gary and Monty, two guys who love to spend hours arguing something called "Edition Wars."  Monty on the right clearly needs to remember Rule #1: Cardio.

Hello world (about to be invaded by zombies)!

Does the world need another blog?  Probably not.  But I wanted to keep a place where I could document my All Things Zombie campaign.  On the blog I'll showcase miniatures I've painted for the campaign plus "After Action Reports" that will make up the story of its main characters as they attempt to survive a world afflicted by a plague of the living dead.

The campaign will revolve around River City, a mythical place where the Star will be based.  What will happen to this Midwestern city once zombies take over?  Stay tuned...