Category Archives: Sci-Fi

The Pawn: Part 4

Lieutenant Worf stood in Holodeck 4, watching LaForge and Data as they wandered through the three-dimensional holographic recreation of the interior of the Mok’tagh. The isolinear rod had provided enough data to make this simulation possible, and LaForge thought it was the best way to determine what had happened and why. Worf looked around, noting how different the interior of the Mok’tagh was compared to the Enterprise; spartan and cold, with no thought given to aesthetics. He felt his Klingon blood stir. What would it be like to serve aboard a ship such as this–a warrior’s ship–rather than a ship of exploration like Enterprise? He glanced at the PADD in his hand and growled in exasperation.

Data looked up from the holographic EPS conduit he was examining. “Is there a problem, Lieutenant?”

Worf’s eyes narrowed. “Commander, we are wasting time. The Klingons will have little regard for–” he gestured at the simulation, “this.

“We are using our most effective method of determining the cause of the accident aboard the Mok’tagh given the data we have at our disposal. I fail to see how that is an inefficient use of time.”

“The Klingons have already decided Lieutenant Barclay’s guilt. They will not be swayed by holograms.”

“Maybe they won’t have to be.” LaForge sounded puzzled. “Worf, besides Barclay, who else was on the engineering detail?”

Worf regarded the PADD. ” Enisgns Mokta and Ramirez, Crewmen Steinway and Cortland, Specialist J’zhara.”

That’s six,” LaForge said, “and they’re all here. But that makes no sense. The conduit that exploded was one level down. None of our crew were anywhere near there.” Geordi regarded his tricorder. “Wait a minute. This shows some modifications were done from the engineering deck.”

Data spoke. “Computer: please display the engineering deck of the Mok’tagh, same time stamp.” The room shimmered and the EPS conduit tubes were replaced with the environment of the Klingon engineering deck. Several Klingons were manning their positions. All seemed calm and in order, except for one thing.

“Guys,” said LaForge, “who the hell is that?”

“A Vulcan?” Picard asked. “Explain.”

“We don’t know, sir,” answered LaForge. He regarded the display screen in the observation lounge, where the image of a tall, middle-aged Vulcan man in a Starfleet engineering uniform was pictured. He looked around the room at the senior staff, seated once again at the conference table. “One thing’s for sure, he’s not an engineer on this ship. I’ve never seen him before.”

“Someone not in Starfleet, then?” asked Troi. “There are plenty of civilians aboard.”

“Computer,” Picard said, “How many Vulcans are presently aboard the Enterprise?”

“There is a total of 84 Vulcans aboard,” the ship’s computer answered.

“Are all accounted for?”

“Affirmative.”

“Identify this person.” Picard commanded.

“Identity unknown.”

“We inquired already, sir,” Data said. “There is no record of this individual ever setting foot on the Enterprise.”

“Near as we can tell, he must have split off from Barclay’s team and went to the engineering deck on his own,” said LaForge. “That’s probably where the sabotage occurred.”

Barclay protested. “But he didn’t split off! He was never with us, Commander! I’m sure of it!” He seemed to realize he was shouting, and lowered his voice. “I think I would have noticed someone I don’t know on my team…”

“As you were, Lieutenant,” Riker said. “No one in this room doubts your word.”

“That is about to change,” said Worf, as the doors to the observation lounge opened, signaling the return of the three Klingons.

“Well, Picard?” asked B’rul. “Are you ready to hand your officer over for interrogation?” Picard gestured to the empty chairs again. After a moment, B’rul sat, the others following suit.

“It seems, Captain,” Picard began, “that we have something of a mystery on our hands.” He briefly explained the situation to the Klingons. “We strongly suspect this man,” Picard indicated the image of the Vulcan on the screen, “is our saboteur, but we have been unable to identify him.”

“Not surprising,” laughed Gr’val. “One Vulcan looks much like another.” His remark was met with stony silence. Even B’rul looked disgusted. “Shut your mouth, you ignorant fool,” he said in Klingon. Gr’val flushed and stared at the table.

“What are you playing at, Picard?” demanded B’rul. “This Vulcan transported to the Mok’tagh from the Enterprise. He’s one of your engineers!”

“I assure you, he is not,” Picard said. “We have no record of this individual ever being aboard this ship.”

“Lies!” shouted Gr’val, pointing at Picard.

B’rul turned to him slowly, his eyes flashing. He did not bother to address his adjutant in the Klingon language this time. “If you dare to speak without my leave again, you will not leave this room.” Gr’val clamped his mouth shut. Dresa smirked.

B’rul stood up and approached the viewscreen console. He stared at the unfamiliar interface for a moment, then began to access the data from the isolinear rod. “These are the transportation communications between the Mok’tagh and your ship,” he said.

Everyone listened as the logs began to play. “Enterprise to Mok’tagh,” came the voice of Transporter Chief O’Brien. “Six to beam aboard.”

“Acknowledged,” came a gruff Klingon voice. A moment later, the whine of the transporter could be heard.

“Transport complete,” came the Klingon voice again.

Barclay began to speak. “Yes, that was when we beamed over. But there was no Vulcan with us. Specialist J’zhara is Andorian and Ensign Mokta is Tellarite, the rest of us are human–“

“Silence!” B’rul said, holding up his hand, as O’Brien’s voice began again.

Enterprise to Mok’tagh: looks like we forgot one. He’s on his way over now.”

The Pawn: Part 3

Most of the senior staff were assembled in the observation lounge, Barclay seated between LaForge and Troi on the far side of the oblong table. On one end sat Commander Data, flanked by Worf; while on the other, in his customary seat, sat Captain Picard, Commander Riker by his side. The doors from the main bridge opened and a nervous-looking security officer glanced in before turning back and stepping aside to allow the Captain’s guests passage.

B’rul entered, flanked by two other Klingons; one male, one female. “Greetings, Captain,” said Picard, then gestured to three empty chairs at his right. “Please, be comfortable.”

The Klingons sat. “My first officer, Dresa,” B’rul said, indicating the tall woman on his right, “and my adjutant, Lieutenant G’rval. ”

Picard made his own introductions quickly. Although B’rul and G’rval stiffened and glared when Worf was introduced, they said nothing. Dresa just stared at him, her expression neutral. “And this,” Picard said at last, “is Lieutenant Reginald Barclay.”

“Uh…hello,” Barclay said awkwardly.

“The murderer!” shouted G’rval, pounding a gauntlet on the table. “Why is he not in the brig?” Barclay visibly quailed. Troi, to his left, placed her hand over his in a reassuring gesture.

“I am not in the habit of confining my officers without cause,” Picard said. “All we know is that the Mok’tagh was destroyed. Mr. Barclay has denied doing so.” Picard glanced at Barclay, who nodded emphatically.

“Of course he denies it,” G’rval said. “Would a guilty man say anything else?”

“Would an innocent man say anything else?” Picard countered. “I do not believe my officer had any ill intent when he boarded that ship; at Captain K’Vaakh’s request, I might add.”

B’rul leaned forward over the table and laced his large hands together, staring hard at Picard. “Fortunately for us, Captain, your beliefs are not proof. We have the data logs of the Mok’tagh. It is standard procedure for all Klingon vessels to transmit ship data when in close proximity to other vessels, so the Empire always has fleet records that are as accurate as possible. That way,” B’rul smiled, “if any accidents should occur, there are fewer unanswered questions as to their cause.”

“You have these records now?” asked Picard. “I should like to review them.”

“I thought you might,” B’rul said, nodding to his adjutant. G’rval grinned and produced a small isolinear data rod. He gently placed it on the table and slid it to Picard, who made no move to take it. B’rul stood up and the other Klingons rose with him. “You have three hours, Picard. Review it to your heart’s content; but take no longer than three hours. Then, I will expect this man to be turned over to the Empire for further questioning. Do not make me come and get him.” He turned, his weighted coat flaring behind him as he strode through the doors of the observation lounge back out to the main bridge, G’rval following. Dresa stared hard at Lieutenant Barclay for a moment, then back at Worf, her face unreadable. Then she, too, left.

Picard looked at the rod on the table. “Mr. Data, Mr. LaForge; I want you to scour whatever is on this rod for any clues as to what might have happened. Mr. Worf is at your disposal for all things that may require his expertise in Klingon protocol. Mr. Barclay, return to your quarters for now. I’m sure Commander Data and Lieutenant LaForge will have questions for you soon.”

Barclay stood. Worf rose alongside and gently placed his hand on Barclay’s shoulder. “That won’t be necessary, Lieutenant,” Picard said to Worf. “I’m sure Mr. Barclay can find the way to his quarters without a security escort.” Barclay managed a grateful smile. Before he left the observation lounge, he turned to the room. “Thank you, everyone.”

Geordi picked up the isolinear rod and raised it to Barclay in a half-salute. “Don’t worry, Reg. We’ve got this.”

The Pawn: Part 2

Captain Jean-Luc Picard stared at the viewscreen, where the Vor’kag, an older (but still formidable) Klingon D7 battle cruiser hung in space like a silent, waiting Talarian hook spider. As he watched, another K’Vort class Bird-of-Prey suddenly decloaked on its port side, joining two others. To his right, Commander William Riker shifted in his chair. “Well, that’s four,” he said. “Getting crowded out here.”

“And that’s just the ships we can see, Number One,” said Picard. “There are likely more out there, cloaked. “

Riker took a steady breath. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say the Klingons are trying to make us nervous.”

“It’s working,” game the gruff voice of Lieutenant Worf, behind them.

Picard turned to silently regard his Chief of Security. From his position at Tactical, Worf elaborated. “It is clearly a show of force, Captain. The Klingons are informing you that they are in control here; not you.”

Picard turned to look to his left at his ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi. “Thoughts, Counselor?”

Her deep, black eyes gazed back at him. “They’re not happy, Captain; but I sense no imminent threat of attack.”

“That is fortunate,” said Worf. “Against so many Klingon warships, the Enterprise would find victory…difficult.” he said.

Picard stood up and straightened his uniform. “It won’t come to that,” he said. “The Klingons are our allies, Mr. Worf. Open a channel to the Vor’kag.

“Aye, sir. Channel open.”

The scowling face of a Klingon captain filled the screen. He did not wait for introductions. “Captain Picard,” he said, “the Klingon Empire demands the surrender of the saboteur responsible for the destruction of the Mok’tagh. We await his transport.”

Picard frowned. “Forgive me, Captain. I did not get your name.”

“B’rul,” said the Klingon.

“Captain B’rul,” Picard said, “I am sure you have many questions, as do we all. Rest assured we are taking this very seriously. Please join me on my ship, where we may sit and discuss matters; and hopefully find some answers together.”

“No!” snapped Captain B’rul. “We will interrogate the prisoner ourselves. You may be certain we will find all the answers there are to find. There has been enough delay already. Surrender him to us now, Picard!”

Picard glanced around the bridge and took a deep breath, exhaling through his nostrils. “I’m sorry, Captain. I am not yet prepared to do that.”

“I did not offer you a choice,” said B’rul.

“No, you did not,” said Picard. “But I am offering you one, now. We would be honored to host you here, aboard the Enterprise; where you may meet with Lieutenant Barclay and ask whatever questions you wish. I give you my word, Captain, that should those answers prove unsatisfactory and should Lieutenant Barclay be guilty of this crime of sabotage; I will not hesitate to act in the best interests of our allies, the Klingon Empire, as I have done in the past.”

B’rul’s eyes narrowed in understanding. Just over a year ago, Picard had been appointed Arbiter of Succession by K’mpec, the previous Klingon chancellor. K’mpec had discovered too late that he had been fatally poisoned by one of his rivals: Gowron or Duras. Once Picard uncovered the treachery of Duras and his role in K’mpec’s assassination, Gowron was installed as new Supreme Chancellor. This was accomplished without a Klingon civil war due in large part to Picard’s efforts, and Gowron would certainly not forget that; nor would he look kindly on anyone who dealt dishonorably with Picard henceforth.

As for the traitor Duras, he was killed by Picard’s own Security Chief, Worf, in a Rite of Vengeance. Briefly, his eyes flicked over Picard’s shoulder to the tactical station. Worf straightened and met his gaze, scowling. Worf’s name was disgraced in the Empire. Like many Klingons, B’rul secretly thought there was much more to the story than was publicly known.

“Very well, Picard,” said B’rul, grudgingly. “Your service to the Empire has earned you this meeting. But I warn you that–“

“Excellent, Captain,” said Picard. “In one hour, then.” He motioned for Worf to cut communications, and Worf complied. “Where is Lieutenant Barclay now?

“He has been confined to quarters, Captain, as has the rest of the engineering detail,” said Worf. “I believe Commander LaForge is with him.”

Picard nodded and tapped his communicator. “All senior staff report to the observation lounge in one hour. Mr. LaForge, please bring Lieutenant Barclay along. Picard out. Number One, you have the bridge.” Picard turned towards the door to his ready room.

“Sir, if I may–” Worf called. Picard looked at him and nodded. Together they both entered the ready room. Picard seemed about to go to his desk, but abruptly turned. “Well, Lieutenant?”

“Sir, I must remind you that my presence at this meeting will certainly anger the Klingons, and may be seen as–“

“We’ve been over this before, Mr. Worf. Any visitors to this ship will need to interact with my Chief of Security. Even Klingons.”

“But, sir; they will–“

“Mr. Worf,” Picard interrupted. “do you believe Lieutenant Barclay intentionally sabotaged the Mok’tagh?

The absurdity of the question stunned him. Worf reflexively came to attention. “No, sir.”

“Nor do I, Lieutenant,” Picard said; “but what I do believe is that someone wants us to think so; and that Lieutenant Barclay is going to need every friend he has with him in that room in one hour. Including you.”

Though Worf would hardly call Barclay a friend, neither did would he stand by when a fellow officer needed him. Worf nodded. “Understood.”

“Dismissed.”


The Pawn: Prelude

The turbolift doors opened. Lieutenant Reginald Barclay took a few hesitant steps onto the bridge of the Enterprise. No matter how long he served in Starfleet, he never felt at home on the bridge; even when he was summoned. It was like he didn’t belong here, and everyone knew it. He cast a glance around, meeting first the stern gaze of Lieutenant Worf, the ship’s Klingon Chief of Security, who had instinctively turned to verify who was exiting the turbolift. Barclay managed a weak smile (which was not returned) and continued to scan the bridge before he found the reassuring face of his superior, Lieutenant Commander Geordi LaForge, smiling at him from his position at the Engineering station. LaForge surreptitiously beckoned Barclay over.

On the viewscreen at the fore of the bridge, the enlarged face of K’Vaakh, Captain of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey Mok’tagh, looked past Captain Picard and focused directly on him. The Klingon abruptly stopped conversing with the Captain and did something that would normally make anyone in Starfleet–let alone a person of Barclay’s disposition– uneasy. He laughed.

“There he is, Picard!” growled K’Vaakh through his broad smile. “Hail, Lieutenant Barclay! My chief engineer Gel’rogh has informed me you have increased our warp engine efficiency by 2.9%!” Captain Jean-Luc Picard turned slightly to regard Barclay, a small smile on his lips. “Two-point-nine percent!” K’Vaakh continued, shouting now. “Truly outstanding! The Klingon Empire thanks you for your service, lieutenant!”

Barclay fidgeted uncomfortably. LaForge put his hand on his shoulder, smiling. Picard nodded, indicating he could respond directly to Captain K’Vaakh.

“It…uh…it…was nothing,” Barclay stammered. “Happy to help, Captain…but…uh…it was a team effort.”

“Yes, but it was YOUR team!” exclaimed K’Vaakh, still smiling. “No need for modesty here, Lieutenant; but of course a good commander knows when to share the glory with his soldiers! Know that you and your men have impressed the Empire this day!”

Barclay flushed with embarrassed pride. “Thank you, Captain. But…uh…it was only that…um…once we figured out the plasma flow was slowed at junction 42, it was a small matter to reroute the EPS conduits to temporarily adjust for the slack; then apply the Bergstrom coefficient to compensate for the…”

“Thank you, Lieutenant Barclay,” Picard interjected smoothly. “Captain K’Vaakh, may we be of any further assistance?”

“None, Captain. You have done more than enough. Lieutenant Barclay, when next we meet, my chief engineer owes you a barrel of blood wine!” Barclay managed to keep the disgust from showing on his face. “Glory to you! And your house!” The Klingon broke transmission, and his face was replaced with a view of the Mok’tagh, turning away from the Enterprise, it’s red nacelles powering up in preparation for warp speed.

“I think you’ve made a friend, Mr. Barclay,” said Captain Picard, straightening his uniform with a smile and returning to his seat. “Well done, Lieutenant.”

LaForge squeezed his shoulder. “Good work, Reg,” he said. “I’m off duty in an hour. Meet you in Ten-Forward. I’ll buy, and no worries. It won’t be blood wine.”

Suddenly, the viewscreen flashed as the image of the Mok’tagh suddenly exploded. Klaxons began to blare aboard the Enterprise as Commander Riker bellowed, “Red Alert!”

“Report!” Picard said, leaping from his chair and taking three full steps towards Ops.

Commander Data paused just long enough to confirm the information on the console in front of him. “The Mok’tagh exploded upon activation of it’s warp drive, sir,” said the android, flatly. He turned in his chair, glancing at the stricken face of Lieutenant Barclay before turning to Picard.

“Survivors?” Picard asked, breathlessly.

Data looked at his console and frowned. He turned again to Picard with a slight shake of his head. “No life signs detected, Captain.”

What’s this? What’s this? Why, it’s a new idea I’m gonna try out this year! I have been INSPIRED!!!!

Tale of the Manticore is a podcast that blends together narrative storytelling and the actual-play game mechanics of old-school Dungeons & Dragons. The creator and producer of the show, Jon, spins a tale of Dark Fantasy by playing a solo game of old-school Red Box D&D and leaving the outcome of story events (including the fate of the characters) to the whims of the dice. It’s one of my favorite podcasts because it’s so unpredictable and so well-done. As Jon says, the dice determine all, and no one is safe.

It’s a great idea; and it has inspired me to try something new. As many of you know, I love miniature games, and I love Star Trek. My last foray into Trek gaming back in late 2019-early 2020 was Hubbard’s World, a series of linked scenarios using the Fantastic Worlds rules and featuring the Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701.

I’ve been considering a return to Trek; this time in the Next Generation era. The above is the prelude to a story I have in mind; but like Jon’s podcast, the events and progression of the story will be determined by the outcome of gameplay.

The story is called The Pawn, and sometimes (like now), I will post short fiction that moves the narrative forward. Eventually, I’ll have to play a game to determine where the story goes next. Then I will post an After Action Report and continue from there.

I will continue to post lots of other stuff in between, so if The Pawn is not your thing, feel free to skip those posts.

Achtung! Barsoom

I can’t resist a huge sale. Modiphius’s US store had a sale at the end of last month; and there were some ri-fucking-diculous deals to be had. Here’s what $70.00 US got me:

The John Carter of Mars RPG Slipcase set: contains both the Core Rulebook and the Phantoms of Mars Campaign Guide: $21.00. Regularly $105.00!

The John Carter of Mars Narrator’s Toolkit and GM Screen: $7.00. Regularly $35.00!

The John Carter of Mars Player’s Guide: $6.00. Regularly $28.00!

In addition, I picked up the Helium Dice Set and the Landscape Location Deck. Usually, I’m not a fan of special dice and/or add-ons like this deck, neither of which you need to play. But, at $4.00 and $5.00 respectively (regularly $17.00 and $21.00), I figured what the hell.

While I was at it, I picked up some Achtung! Cthulhu fiction for $3.00; and EIGHT Deep One metal miniatures for the low, low price of $6.00!!!! (Regularly $14.00 and $28.00!)

That’s a total of $52.00, regularly $238.00! That’s 78% off the total! Makes the $18.00 shipping charge seem pretty worth it, considering I ALSO get the digital PDFs of everything (except the dice and the miniatures, obviously)!

Of course, like most of the games I buy nowadays, I doubt I’ll ever play this. The Achtung! Cthulhu fiction will definitely get read, and I will certainly paint the miniatures; but I don’t have high hopes for playing a John Carter game. Most of my friends aren’t familiar with the characters and setting, and those that are familiar are not particularly interested. Still, I’m a huge Burroughs fan, and, like most Modiphius stuff, these books are simply gorgeous. They are laid out in landscape orientation, and the artwork is some truly stunning stuff.

Time for a visit to Barsoom…even if it’s just to find out what Carrion Crow‘s been up to on his periodic jaunts to Mars. I have a feeling this is going to make me want to dust off my copy of A Princess of Mars

Apocalypse Me: Hungry Bertha

I’m used to storms here in New England. Unfortunately, sometimes they screw with my painting time. Since I had no power to Piper’s Painting Pit on some key days last month, I was unable to get my entry for Dave Stone’s “Apocalypse Me” challenge done on time. Here she is, better late than never; and no, she doesn’t look like me at all.

This lovely lass is “Hungry Bertha”, an OOP Horrorclix miniature from the Freakshow set. As many of you know, repainting and rebasing Clix is something I quite enjoy. So I decided to make Bertha look a little better, paint-wise, and a little more zombified. That way she could (theoretically) be my entry for Zombtober, too.

The lollipop stuck to her backside is a nice touch, as are the mysterious and loathsome slime trails emanating from her various folds. Lovely.

Anyway, I decided to add some gore to her base…a few GW zombie bits, some green stuff intestines…you get the idea.

Add copious layers of Blood for the Blood God, some gloss varnish on her lollipop and slime trails, and here is the result.

This close up shows that I should clean up her eyes a bit, methinks.

Upon reflection I thought it might be fun to make a diorama out of Bertha here, with her teetering upon a veritable mound of body parts and gore; but I was under the gun as it was. This will have to do for now. Still…it’s a thought for later.

Apologies for being late, Dave!

Imperial Assault, Twin Shadows Part Two: The Heroes and The Hunter

Part Two of my Imperial Assault: Twin Shadows painting is complete, which means I have finished all the miniatures from the boxed expansion and the ally and villain packs released along with it.

There are two rebel heroes in the Twin Shadows boxed set. This is Saska Teft, a combat engineer. As far as I can tell, she makes things blow up pretty good.

The other hero is Biv Bodhrik, the stereotypical “heavy weapons guy.”

Looks like he has some skin problems. Chalk it up to poor layering on my part.

Next, an Ally Pack featuring some familiar faces: R2-D2 (does he even HAVE a face?) and C-3PO.

Another fun fact: I bought this pack twice, because I purchased the first one from “Amazon World Marketplace”. The description said that was based in Great Britain, but the package shipped from Spain, and I got this in the mail: the Italian version. Although the miniatures are the same, all the game materials are in Italian. This is useless to me as I don’t speak or read Italian. So, I put this on eBay, thinking someone else must need it. So far, no one needs it.

Between the primer fiasco and the duplicate droids, this Twin Shadows project was getting fucking expensive.

Like many of my Imperial Assault miniatures, I painted these by following Sorastro’s tutorials on YouTube. I like his tutorials because I often learn new ways of doing things. For example, the gold base color on C-3PO is not gold paint. It’s GW’s Leadbelcher washed with GW’s Seraphim Sepia, then highlighted up. This provides a nice depth of tone and it’s a trick I will absolutely use again, whether I’m painting shields or armor.

Finally: Boba Fett, a bounty hunter who is even cooler than Dog, the Bounty Hunter (didn’t think that was possible, did you?). He’s featured prominently on the box cover and in several Twin Shadows missions; so naturally he’s sold separately. Thanks, Fantasy Flight.

Boba Fett is a great-looking miniature, especially for Imperial Assault, where some of the miniatures are pretty lame (just wait until I get to Ahsoka Tano). Of course, the Star Wars Legion version of Boba Fett is so much better-looking, I try not to think about it lest I get depressed.

That’s it for Twin Shadows, but I have many more Imperial Assault miniatures to go. I’d like to collect the entire run of the game, but that doesn’t seem likely. Two days before I wrote this post, a Grand Admiral Thrawn villain pack sold on eBay for $152.50.

That’s one hundred fifty-two dollars and fifty cents for one plastic miniature. That’s fucking stupid.

It’s ok. I can live without Thrawn for sure. In addition to two more boxed expansions (Return to Hoth and Bespin Gambit), I have 18 more ally and villain packs waiting for my paintbrush. When will I ever get to them all?

That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for…

Imperial Assault, Twin Shadows: Troopers and Raiders

Slowly but surely, I have begun to chip away at my significant pile of Star Wars miniatures for my Imperial Assault expansions. I decided to start with the first boxed expansion to the game, Twin Shadows, which included 10 new miniatures in the core box. In addition, I painted several ally and villain expansions that were released to coincide with the release of the box, because why give you everything in one box when they can charge you piece by piece?

First up, some Heavy Stormtroopers. You get four of these guys in the box, and they’re pretty nice miniatures.

Also pictured here is Kayn Somos; a special figure that came in a separate Villain Pack. Although it’s always nice to have a Stormtrooper boss, his pose is a bit meh.

Next: the four Tusken Raiders from the box and another Villain Pack: the Bantha Rider. I like these miniatures, but here’s the annoying story behind them.

My primer of choice is The Armory spray primer. Most people don’t like it. I love it. I prime 99% of my models black; but I had Armory Primer in Black, White and Grey. I rarely use grey. In fact, the can was no good any more; and to top things off my black can was almost out, too. I needed new primer! Sadly, the place I usually get it (the ONLY place I know that carries it) is out, and they don’t know when they will get any back (if ever). So I went on Amazon. Same deal. COVID has really fucked with a lot of things, including spray paint distribution.

Since I was pretty much following the painting tutorial by Mark Sorastro (which, like all his Imperial Assault tutorials, is spectacular), I needed to prime them grey. I looked online to see what other miniature enthusiasts use. I’m not paying 15 bucks a can for GW or Army Painter primer, so I decided on this:

Rustoleum primer is supposed to be pretty good and is used by lots of mini painters. After looking high and low for it in stores, I finally managed to snag a can. Like I said, spray paint is pretty scarce nowadays due to the pandemic. I went to three different Wal-Marts and saw only racks of empty space. I finally found a can of this at a Home Depot. It was the only can left. Score, right?

Wrong. I sprayed my Tusken Raiders and one half of the Bantha with this shit. Three days later, they were still tacky and I realized with horror that this primer was reacting poorly to the plastic (despite the “Also Bonds To PLASTIC!” assurance on the label). This was a disaster. I removed what I could with some non-acetone nail polish remover. What was I to do now?

For situations like these (like when I prime Reaper Bones), I use Vallejo brush-on surface primer. I have black and white. I needed grey. I briefly considered just mixing the two; but I decided to splurge for the grey as I have many more Imperial Assault miniatures to paint and I might need it. One Amazon order and 6 days later, I had a bottle. The bottle says grey, but it looks pretty fucking white. On top of that, it’s thin, like milk. It is noticeably different from the Vallejo black and white primers I have. I primed all the figures again, and then I got angry. I didn’t need to prime them grey. I could have saved a lot of time, aggravation and money if I had just used the black primer I have; because I can’t imagine using this shit for anything, ever. It sucks.

Anyway, I muddled through. Lesson learned. Next post will finish up the miniatures for this expansion: both the Heroes from the box and some extra (familiar) Allies and Villains (sold separately, of course).

Wondering where my September Character of the Month is? Well, she’s a bit late, but she’ll be along. That of course means I will have TWO Characters in October. The miniature is painted, but I haven’t had time to write up her back story. As everyone knows, I refuse to post things when they’re only half done.

So stay tuned for the second half of Twin Shadows (what?), coming soon!

“Game over, man! Game over!!”

For the past few months, this has been my main project: Painting Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps, by Gale Force Nine. It’s done.

First: the Xenomorphs. These guys were super-easy to paint. All 16 took me about 2 hours and I think they look great, especially for table play. I used The Esoteric Order of Gamers method, which couldn’t be simpler; but I decided against using any gloss finish. YMMV.

Of course, the Alien Queen doesn’t come with the core set; she’s only available in the “Get Away From Her, You Bitch!” expansion. I bought that too (see below), so here she is.

On to the Colonial Marines. The core set includes (L-R) Vasquez, Frost, Ripley, Hudson, Newt, Gorman and Hicks. Fun fact: not only do I hate painting camouflage, I really hate Colonial Marine camo. It’s fucking weird; and no two people paint it the same.

A couple of close-ups of Frost and Vasquez, then one showing Hicks, Hudson (Game over, man!) and Newt.

Closeups of Ripley.

This is the “Ultimate Badasses” expansion. (L-R) Drake, Wierbowski, Burke, Crowe, Apone, and Dietrich. Spoiler Alert! With the exception of Burke, all these marines were dead by the first 30 minutes of the movie, so calling them “ultimate badasses” is a bit of a stretch…

Closeups of Carter Burke, Weyland-Yutani douchebag.

Finally, Bishop, “Gooey” Bishop, Enraged Ripley and Ripley in the Power Loader. Gale Force Nine sells these miniatures (and all the others, too) in a separate sets containing only the miniatures. This one was called “Sulaco Survivors”. I bought it thinking I got a great deal before I realized it’s ONLY the miniatures and you don’t get the stuff you need for the actual game. For that, you need to buy the “Get Away From Her, You Bitch!” expansion, which also includes these miniatures (and the Queen). Confusing and annoying, since now I have two sets of these (one of which is still on the sprue).

I really like the Bishop models. The Ripley sculpt is pretty iconic, but I’m pretty “meh” about it. Do I really need three versions of Ripley?

Finally, Ripley in the power loader. This one wasn’t fun, either. I hate painting yellow, and this miniature wasn’t easy to paint. Although I was wise enough not to fully assemble it before painting, I should have assembled it even less. It was tough to get the brush everywhere it needed to go. Compounding that with the color yellow (which is a notorious asshole) meant I needed to do a lot of repainting of the same areas to cover accidents. Still, it does look pretty cool…

Now, I’m ready to play! Just in time for another (likely) lockdown!

I can play this one solo, at least…

The 2021 Season of Scenery To-Do List

With one month gone already in Dave Stone’s Season of Scenery, I am lagging a bit behind. I’ve decided to do a bunch of small pieces that have been sitting around for far too long. Hopefully I can get the majority of them done by the end of August; but if not, at least I’ll have made some progress. Much of it is either 3D-printed or resin cast stuff, some of which I’ve owned for almost a decade.

Pretty much everything that’s black up in that picture is 20mm Gaslands scenery: fuel tanks, fuel barrels and tire stacks. These should be very easy to paint and hopefully will go fast. The white stuff is some new 3D-printed cargo piles I picked up in 28mm scale. Again, not hard to do, just time-consuming. The gray stuff is what’s left over from a 3D-printed sci-fi crate order I got last year. I used the other crates in my Star Trek Forgotten Worlds scenarios, but since I didn’t need these large ones I didn’t bother to paint them. Then there’s the vending machines and the Victorian weird science dynamo, both from Armorcast, and both purchased so long ago I can’t remember when. (I don’t even think they make the dynamo anymore.) Those damn vending machines have been sitting on my desk in their respective basecoats for almost ten years. It’s time, man.

Finally, I have three resin barricades I’ve owned since 2003 or so. I bought them for Warhammer 40K, but I never really went back to playing 40K so I never needed them. Primed black on the left side of the picture is a ruined wall fortification, another 40K piece I never got to. While these are the oldest and largest pieces of scenery; they’re also the lowest priority. Still, it would be nice to get to them…maybe if time permits.