Thursday, December 30, 2010

31. Death in the Jungle: Turn 13

[Turn Thirteen Begins]

The Natives seemed to sense Lieutenant Frye's frustration, and were set back on their heels because of it.  The Frenchmen were closer to their tainted shrine than they themselves were, yet both refused to give up.  The seemingly immortal brown-shield leader hooted a command, and Lt Frye watched in amazement as the few remaining Pygmies squared their shoulders and advanced threateningly near to the cattle pen just behind the totem.

"Je suis venu trop loin pour abandonner maintenant," - "I've come too far to quit now," - thought Frye.  First things first:  he turned and barked an order to Seejee and Sawjaw, the tirailleurs leading the Native Bearers.  The soldiers acknowledged him and urged their nervous charges off to the side of the clearing, out of the way of immediate danger.

Next Frye called an order to Cane, the senior trooper of 'B' légionnaires squad.  Cane nodded, advanced his men toward the petits hommes, and formed them into a firing line.  Smoke billowed from the ends of their rifles as they fired on his command.  Cane squinted to see the results, muttering in disapproval as he realized their shots had missed.

His muttering changed to a low cry as the fierce cannibals tried to blow their dart guns at his men before realizing they were out of range, and rushing forward instead, closing the distance between them rapidly.

Cane urgently uttered a second command, and his vision was once again obscured by the acrid smoke from eight guns.  This time his diligence was rewarded by seeing two l'indigènes fall.  To his amazement, the brown-shielded leader was unable to command his men forward; instead, they half-heartedly shot their blowguns at the légionnaires before falling back in good order.  Cane was just as amazed that their shots missed.  He could do no more for now.  He and his men stood fast and waited.

There was a heartbeat of a pause.  The jungle was still and quiet. 

Lt Frye motioned an instruction to Caporal Cabot and l'Infanterie des Marines he was leading.  There was a lengthy pause as the inexperienced caporal remembered the correct commands needed to carry out the orders he had received.  Then he formed the marines into open order before advancing his men around to the right of the shrine -- Frye wanted him to get behind the Natives.

Farther back in the French portion of the jungle, the Tirailleurs Sénégalais continued to advance under the command of Caporal Chien, ending their movement in open order as well.

Just as Lt Frye got his men where he wanted them, the vicious cannibalistic Pygmies let out a blood-chilling war cry and charged légionnaires squad 'B.'  "Recevoir la charge!" Frye shouted.  Cane ordered his men to brace themselves, but he thought he saw trooper Pes step behind his mates at the last moment -- had a second run-in with the murderous miniature men unmanned him?

The tiny dark-skinned fanatics crashed into the taller white-skinned Frenchmen with screams and curses, shields thudding into rifle butts, and poison-laced spearheads stabbing unmercifully at unprotected legs.

Though there were hardly any of the left, yet still they refused to quit.  After the initial rush, the heavier weight and longer reach of the légionnaires began to tell on the Pygmies, until the brown-shielded seemingly immortal leader reached deep for one last super-human effort to defeat the invaders and defend his horrid shrine.

He cut, he slashed, he danced out of reach only to dart back in again...but to no avail.  First one, then five! of his brave but terrible men fell to the bayonets and rifles clubbing at them, before he, too, finally succumbed!

With an ear-piercing shriek the remaining pygmées fled, their spirit broken, their morale shaken to its core.  Their fearless leader, the one whom no White could kill, had at last fallen.  Was he truly dead?

Cane wiped a sweat-soaked sleeve across his sweat-soaked forehead.  A quick glance told him his line was intact; his men had held.  What's more, trooper Pes came skulking back to rejoin his squad, shamefaced and pale.  Cane would have to have words with him later:  cowardice was not allowed in La Légion.

Somehow or other, several of l'indigènes were able to return to what remained of their unit -- including, to Frye's absolute bafflement, the brown-shielded leader!  "Incroyable!" he breathed.  "Peut-être qu'il est un fantôme."

Sergent Cur of 'A' légionnaires had finally regained his wits enough to take command from trooper Lupo, but under Lupo's urgings he allowed his men to retire further still.  He was almost out of earshot of le Lieutenant.

Lastly, Frye was pleased to see that, even though the unkillable brown-shield leader had survived and returned, he was unable to prevent his men from retreating, too.

Apparently, no matter how worthy the adversary, all great generals must contend with short-sighted grunts.  Frye grimaced in mutual disgust and admiration.

[Turn Thirteen Ends]

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

30. Zombies and Dinosaurs, Oh My!

So there I was at the dollar store, innocently buying candy for the kids' Christmas stockings, when I come upon the following:  undead Dinosaurs!  Well, dinosaur skeletons, at any rate; probably meant for display in a miniature museum.  But they're scaled perfectly for 28mm, and they were $1 a package!  I bought two packs, and they had two more packs with different dinosaurs in them that I didn't buy (mainly because an undead Duckbill dinosaur just doesn't seem all that scary, nor does an undead Pterodactyl.  Maybe it's just me....).

Here's what the packages look like:

And here's an action shot of a fearless Legionnaire finding out he's gotten more than he bargained for!

On another line of thinking, I've been slowly getting into the Zombie gaming craze.  I bought Two Hour Wargames' "All Things Zombie:  Better Dead than Zed" (otherwise known to the "in" crowd as ATZ:BDTZ) during their Black Friday sale, and I must say it's quite enjoyable.  I'm limited in my number of zombies, so I'm making-do with the 1:72 scale plastic zombie chicks from the Zombies!!! board game by Twilight Creations (they're cheap, and close enough in scale to see me through my zombie-free crisis).

One thing the rules want you to do is place a marker whenever a gun is fired, or other similarly loud noises occur, as that attracts zombies.  I didn't have what I felt were appropriate markers; little pieces of cardboard just didn't do it for me, and dice take up too much room, plus I get them confused with the dice I'm actually using.  So I went to Hobby Lobby and picked up a package of ruby red acrylic gems, normally used for decorating and "blinging" little girls' purses and such.  It was $3.47, but I just happened to get it this week for 50% off.  What luck!

So here's what they look like in action (I should mention that these are not 1:72 scale plastic zombies from Twilight Creations; they are, in fact, Dungeons & Dragons zombie miniatures).  Our fearless heroine blasts away at a hapless zombie shambling toward her.

Uh oh, she missed, and what's worse, she's brought more zombies to the feeding trough that is going to be her!  Zoinks!  Better run, honey!

I also bought some grey felt at the fabric store, and made myself some roads.  Ya gotta have roads in modern zombie gaming, y'know.  I simply cut 8" wide strips, in straights and curves, and then took a white china marker and drew some simple white stripes down the center.  Here's a pic of one road section (I might put up more pictures soon of them all, but I'm not completely finished making the various shapes yet).

They don't look nearly as good as the felt roads from Hotz ArtWorks, but it cost me $5 for 36" by 72" and all I have to do is cut them out.  I can live with myself until the day I can afford the good stuff.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

29. Yet Another Interlude: In Search of KatManDog

I recently played another game of Adventures in the Lost Lands from Two Hour Wargames.

The brave souls venturing into the dinosaur infested lands were my friend Patrick, his son John Michial and my son Evan (both of whom are 12).  We took three teams of hunters through the Lost Lands of Kellytopia (which really needs to stay lost) in search of the gateway to KatManDog.

They needed to find a "key," hidden in one of the sections of the table as previously rolled by me in secret, and kill a dinosaur, in order to be able to enter the gateway.

Here's how it all went down.  (Click on the pictures to enlarge them so you can read them.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

28. Death in the Jungle: Part 12

[Turn Twelve Begins]

While Lieutenant Frye was assessing the situation, the brown-shielded Pygmy leader moved his men boldly into the open, right for the Tirailleurs Sénégalais.
The sudden, unexpected move was too soon for the recently-shaken tirailleursCaporal Chien seemed to agree with their group decision to retire away from the menacing Natives.  Their retire-ment was a little too hasty, though, and their nerve was once again shaken.  Chien lost any chance he might have had of firing at the cannibals.
With their prey gone, the advancing Pygmies quickly changed direction to face l'Infanterie des Marines.
Les marines, never the sturdiest of fighters, had, in this battle, been whittled down, and now, with only the inexperienced caporal Cabot to lead them, their nerve failed as well, and they withdrew a safe distance, similarly wasting an opportunity of shooting.
Still on the offensive, l'indigènes advanced once again, this time pivoting slightly to face 'B' squad of la légion étrangère.
The senior trooper of 'B' légionnaires, Cane, had watched with amusement and disgust as les marines and the tirailleurs had retreated from a single squad of half-size Natives.  He had no trouble keeping his légionnaires in place, carefully waiting for their next move.

...which was for the vicious cannibals to raise their blowguns and shoot a hail of deadly feathered darts at them!  The rain of poisoned arrows felled two of Cane's men -- Pes the Czech, and Koira the Finn.  Cane, learning quickly on the job, kept his men in readiness, and did not waste a rushed shot in reply.

Meanwhile, Cpl Chien managed to coax his tirailleurs into advancing back into the action.  With a clear shot open to them -- and more importantly to the soldiers, the Natives' attention was elsewhere -- they fired, causing a single Native to drop to the dirt.  This unexpected flanking attack from an enemy thought run off shook the Pygmies more than anything else the tirailleurs had done.
At the rear of the despicable pagan religious shrine, the cowardly Natives hiding there had finally recovered their nerve.  Seeing the effectiveness of the brown-shielded leader, they also began to creep menacingly toward 'B' légionnaires.  Cane watched them, once again holding his men back to prevent them wasting a shot they had no chance of making.
At last, however, Cane judged the time to be right.  With a blast of smoke from their rifles, Cane's men dropped two of the Natives near the shrine.

With their nerve only barely restored, the deaths of two of their number was too much for them, and the Pygmies ran.  They stopped almost so far away as to be totally removed from the fight, but yet still they remained.
The marines, having seen the effect of gunfire on the enemy, finally dug up some resolve and fired at the brown-shielded leader's squad.  The results were less than spectacular in that they missed, but they did also keep the Pygmies' heads down and uncertain.

Lt Frye could feel the situation rapidly devolving into chaos.  His units were being pinned in place by blowgun-wielding nains!  To his immense relief, he saw Trooper Lupo of 'A' légionnaires coaxing his men back to the battle.

Also, the tirailleurs fired again, having seen the success of their last volley.  Unfortunately for them, they missed, and the Natives merely froze in place.
For the first time in long minutes, l'indigènes made no aggressive moves.

Frye pressed his advantage:  he called over his shoulder to Seejee and Sawjaw, the tirailleurs leading the Native Bearers -- long since hiding in the foliage while the battle played itself out in front of them -- to bring their men up.  There was a tense moment when the Bearers burst into view of the brown-shielded leader's squad of Pygmies, but l'indigènes were still too shaken to be bothered with killing their taller cousins.  Unfortunately the Bearers were too scared to move now!  In an effort to bolster their courage, Seejee and Sawjaw fired their rifles at the cannibals.  Although their fire caused no casualties, it did loosen the feet of the Bearers, who advanced to very close range to the totem.
Trooper Cane finally had enough of the sneaking, skulking Natives.  Ordering his men to fix bayonets, he led them on a charge at the brown-shielded leader's squad.
One Pygmy seemed to melt into the jungle immediately even as they made contact.  For the first few frantic moments, the initiative shifted back and forth as each squad leader asserted his dominance.  Cane narrowly dodged a blow, then thrust his bayonet at the crafty cannibal, feeling with satisfaction as it sank deep into the fearless Native leader.  Eventually, the légionnaires' superior strength and ferocity told the difference:  three l'indigènes were unceremoniously stomped to the jungle floor.

The surviving Pygmies retreated, shaken, almost totally out of the battle area.  The last remaining cannibal seemed to fade into the darkness of the jungle.  And suddenly, the troublesome squad of Pygmies was no more!  With a deep sigh of relief, Cane reformed his men into open order.  Casting a look around, Cane could readily tell that trooper Pes would recover, was doing so already, being helped to his feet by his fellows; but that Koira would never be so lucky.

Cpl Chien was surprised when Mecbeth somewhat shakily regained his feet.  His recovery seemed to give heart to the tirailleurs.

Lt Frye was equally relieved that his Marines held firm; a sudden loss of nerve and a retreat now would have spelt disaster for him.  Unfortunately, Trooper Lupo of 'A' légionnaires was not able to rally his men and in fact could not prevent them from edging further from the battlefield.
Frye could see, on the enemy's side, that the brown-shielded leader's squad had completely disintegrated as a fighting unit:  between casualties and general cowardice his men disappeared.

But wait....

What was this?  The Natives cowering near that despicable shrine not only no longer appeared to be shaken, but seemed to grow in number as well!  Frye could not believe his eyes.  He blinked to shake the sweat out of them.  No, he was not mistaken.  The brown-shielded leader, whom Frye had seen killed in mêlée with Cane, was alive and now leading the only remaining l'indigène squad keeping the French from completing their mission.
What manner of man or beast was this fantôme?  What were these monstres fantomatiques, that died yet lived on?

Lt Frye ground his teeth in frustration.  One group of Natives--ONE GROUP--was holding him back.  Well, no more.  He would kill this mysterious Pygmy leader with his bare hands if need be.  He would complete his mission, no matter the price!

[Turn Twelve Ends]