Friday, January 27, 2017

A Pair of Simple 28mm Sci-Fi Storage Tanks (Testing a Chipped Paint and Rust Technique)

    We bought a package of cheap plastic ornaments at Michael's this past Christmas, and I commandeered two to make a couple of simple storage tanks with the goal of trying out a chipped paint and rust technique I had seen on Youtube.
   I began by gluing the ornaments cap-down onto a pair of small plastic cups, after first cutting holes in the bottoms of the cups to fit the ornament caps into. I then glued the cups to 1.25" fender washers.  When all the glue was dry, I sprayed the finish storage tanks with flat white spray paint.
      I then painted the bases and the undersides of the tanks with Ceramcoat "Walnut", and then added splotches of Americana "Terra Cotta", to give a weathered rusted look.
      Then when the rust paint had had a day to dry, I prepared a jar of kosher salt and can of hair spray, that I had purchased a while back at the local Dollar Tree store for this purpose.
      I liberally sprayed the bases and underside of each tank with the hair spray, and while the hair spray was still wet, I sprinkled the areas with the kosher salt.
      I let everything dry overnight, and the next day I sprayed the storage tanks with a khaki tan spray paint
      I then weathered the tanks with a wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade" wash,  applied with a wet brush, carefully so as not to dislodge the salt.  When the wash was dry, I drybrushed the tanks with Americana "Bleached Sand".
     I let everything dry overnight, and the next day I ran the storage tanks under a weak stream of warm water as I gently scrubbed at the lower ares with an old soft toothbrush, to remove the salt.  When everything had overnight to dry, I gave them a spray varnish with Testor's Dullcote.
Shown with a 28mm Reaper Nova Corp Sgt. for scale.

     I am really happy with how they came out.  They're not perfect, but it was a good learning opportunity for the process.   I'm looking forward to making some more things I can try this on.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Painting Reaper's "Dark Maiden" as a Frostgrave Construct

   Ever since I started working on my Frostgrave waterfront last year, I have thought that the Reaper "Dark Maiden" figure would make a cool addition to my Frostgrave figure collection; taking the roll of either a dockside Construct, or even a Wraith.  I was lucky enough to pick one up in a trade a while back, and it's been lingering on my painting table until I built up the courage to tackle it.  I finally decided with the River scenario from the Frostgrave Thaw of the Lich Lord  supplement on our schedule for next month, that it was time to build up my courage and tackle this beautiful figure.
     In mulling over paint schemes, I decided that I wanted to do something like the grayish-brown of the masthead shown on the shipwreck of the Charlotte during the opening scenes of the movie "National Treasure."
    This seemed simple enough, just some brown and grey drybrushing over a dark base.  The hard part was going to be that I wanted to make it look possessed, with glowing eyes and glowing swords; and Object Source Lighting (OSL) still is not a strong technique for me.
  So I began by assembling the model and then priming it with flat white spray paint.  I then painted the entire thing with Americana "Mississippi Mud", followed by a complete wash with Citadel "Agrax Earthshade" wash.
      Then, when the wash was dry, I drybrushed the figure with Americana "Neutral Grey", followed by Americana "Barn Wood", and lastly Americana "Dove Grey".
      I then worked on the metal parts; painting them first with Americana "Asphaltum", followed by splotchy areas of Crafter's Edition "Spice Brown", followed by more splotches of Reaper MSP "Pumpkin Orange".  I let it all dry a while then gave the metal parts a wash with Citadel "Nuln Oil" wash.
     My next step was to paint her eyes and swords with Reaper MSP "Dungeon Slime".  When dry, I gave the eyes and swords a wash with Iron Wind Metals "Medium Green" ink.  When that was dry, I built up central highlights along the blades and in the eyes working from the base "Dungeon Slime up to Reaper MSP "Peppermint White".  I then gently drybrushed, using the "Dungeon Slime", anywhere I thought the glowing eyes or swords would cast their light.
    I then repainted the base with Americana "Snow White", and glued on some "ice" made from letting a thick layer of clear crackle paint dry in a plastic container.
   Lastly I textured the base with a mix of Citadel "Vahallan Blizzard" textured paint, and regular White paint. The next day I sprayed the figure with Testor's Dullcote.
    I'm really happy with how it turned out.   While I wish it had turned out a little more aged grey, and less brown; I still think it looks properly demonic. :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 1: The Eclipse

     This past Saturday we got together to play the first game of our new 2017 Frostgrave Campaign.  This year our goal is to play a game each month and work our way through the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" (TotLL) supplement book.  Since this book only has 10 scenarios in it, we will also be doing two games with scenarios of our own design.
     For those interested in reading my reports from last year's campaign, they start here: Frostgrave 2016.
A view of the table
     We had only 6 of our 8 regular players available for Saturday's game, so we used a 9' x 3' table set-up.  We ran the first scenario from the TotLL book, The Eclipse, which features a limited visibility of 16 inches at the start of the game due to the darkness caused by the impending titular eclipse.  Then each turn visibility reduces until turn 5 when the eclipse has reached its peak.  On that turn there is a surge of magical power, and then visibility starts increasing again each turn.  
     We placed treasure, as well as determined set-up positions and turn order, normally using our numbered-poker-chips-in-a-paper-bag method.  My new Sigilist, Quailelyn, and her Apprentice, Bailisette, started in one corner of one table.  (To read a prologue story about my two magic-users and how they came to journey to Frostgrave, see here: Prologue.)  To their right was the warband of an Elementalist, and across from them was the warband of a Soothsayer named Gru.  Diagonally across from them was another Sigilist, named Bemis.

A view of Quail's starting position, located near the center-right bottom of the photo, near the yellow ruler. 

      But our story begins a little earlier in the day...

     Maga Librarian Quailelyn sat at a table in a crowded tavern in one of the several crossroad villages that had sprung up in the last couple years on the far outskirts of Frostgrave.   Next to her sat the Apprentice Librarian, Bailisette, and across from her sat the knight, Sir Cardidil.  While the two women intently studied an ancient tome opened before them, Sir Cardidil kept a watchful eye on their surroundings.
   "I still can't believe you took one of the atlases from the Library's antiquities section!" Bailisette said to her superior in a hushed voice.
   "That's not all I took, Bailey", Quail said, and she tilted her head to the floor where a large pack sat with obvious book-shaped bulges in it.  "And I prefer the term 'borrowed'.  It is a library book after all; and being the Maga Librarian does come with some privileges I would think."
     The two turned back to study the ancient map on the page opened before them.  "I thought this atlas of Feldstad might come in handy in locating some good areas of the city to search," Quail whispered, "but leave it to a map drawn by wizard cartographers to be almost unintelligible without the right secret key to reading it. (Failed before-game Reveal Secret rolls for both spellcasters) The Sigilist sighed and reached over and closed the large atlas.
    Quailelyn looked up at the knight. "Shouldn't those soldiers you hired be here soon?" she asked.
   "Yes, ma'm," the knight answered. And as he glanced at the sunlit door, he stood up and said, "In fact here they are now."
The group enters the city, as Quail gets a better view from atop a crumbled pillar. Two treasure are located in the ruin to the left, just visible along the top left side of the photo.
        As the Sigilist approached the ruined city, she couldn't help but notice that the day had grown unusually dark for the hour.  She scanned the sky and could see a large object starting to pass before the sun.  "That can't be a good omen," she thought to herself as she listened to the hushed nervous whispers from the warriors behind her.   The Librarian stopped for a moment and turned to the group following her.  She had taught more than one unruly class in her day, so knew a bit about taking charge, but commanding people under dangerous circumstances was new to her.  The key was not to show her own uncertainty.   She pointed to Luc Demic the crossbowman; Clol the thug, and Sir Cardidil, and said in an authoritative manner "Why don't you three come with me."  She then pointed to Sallisee the archer, Dorchesman the thief, and Barc the thug, and said, "And you three go along with Bailisette."  The Maga Librarian then looked at the thieves Kinny and Innis Flin and said to them, " You two stay close, and keep your eyes open."
     Quail then approached some sort of old ruined temple and climbed up on the stump of the collapsed central pillar to get a better view of the immediate area. She quickly noticed two promising looking chests laying in a ruined building over to her left. She gave a hushed call to Bailey and pointed them out to her, and mouthed the word "Telekinesis".  Quailelyn then quietly spoke the Telekinesis spell, and directed her thoughts towards an ancient trunk on the second floor of the ruin, which suddenly shook and then broke free of the ice and snow that held it and began to drift slowly through the air towards her. It went a couple dozen yards or so towards the wizard and then dropped to the snow covered ground.
  Quail jumped down from her perch, and as she did so she glanced up at an old ruined watchtower on the low hill in front of them. It was covered in several old long-forgotten Wizard Eyes, used in ancient times to keep a guard on the city...but did she just see one of them blink? (The wizard Gru successfully cast Wizard Eye onto the tower  from the far side of the hill).  She took a second quick look at the watchtower to make sure she wasn't seeing things,  and after reassuring herself all was normal, she turned to look at Bailisette expectantly.   The Apprentice knew the Maga Librarian's gaze was upon her and she very much wanted to impress her on this first test of her abilities outside of the confines of the university. The young woman stared at the treasure chest sitting on a ruined wooden walkway in the distance and concentrated on the words of the Telekinesis spell.  She spoke the incantation effortlessly, and began to feel very proud of herself; thinking about how well she was doing, she lost her concentration on the spell. She faltered and repeated the same line twice; a searing pain went through her head and she saw flashing white lights. "It must succeed!" she thought to herself; and refocusing on the casting, she gritted her teeth and finished the spell.  Slowly, the rotting chest lifted off its perch and drifted towards her; going a few dozen yards and dropping to the snow.  (Pushed spell for -9 HP damage) Bailey let out a gasp and dropped to her knees, her head swimming, and sweat running down her back.
Quail Telekinetically moves one treasure towards her group (seen on the ground in the ruin on the left), as the rest of her command moves forward to retrieve it.  The second treasure can be seen on the gangway leading from the hill to the ruin. 

     Quail turned from watching the chest float along through the frosty air, to see her Apprentice drop.  As she did, a Bone Dart whizzed passed her cheek from the old watch tower.  She ducked instinctually, her suspicions about the new Wizard's Eye confirmed.  "Wizard's Eye on the tower!",  she shouted to her warband and pointed up to the top of the hill, as she ran over to Bailisette.
   "What did you do, you foolish girl!?" she said with mixed care and anger, as she grabbed the girl's head and peered into her eyes, searching for symptoms.  Her hands went down to the girl's neck to feel the pulse; weak.  Moving her hands to the Apprentice's shoulders, Quail closed her eyes, and began to whisper close to the Apprentice's ear the sing-song chant of a Healing spell.  Bailey could feel the healing tingle inside her, and she could feel the ache in her head subside and the ground beneath her stopped rocking back and forth.
   "Thank you, Ma'am ....I just wanted to show you I could do it." she said with a weak smile.
    Quail put her hands on her hips and eyed the young woman.  "I wouldn't have brought you if I didn't think you could do it, Bailisette." she said firmly yet with a touch of kindness. "Now, please be more careful."
    "Yes, Ma'am"
     While Quail was dealing with her Apprentice's mishap, the thief Innis Flin moved forward and grabbed the treasure Bailey had telekinetically moved.  As fast as possible he moved it back towards their rendezvous point.
Quail moves to Heal Bailey, as Sir Cardidil stands guard, and Innis Flin moves away with the second treasure. Other members of the party can be seen moving off to the right in the upper right corner of the photo.
      Meanwhile, on the flanks trouble was brewing.   Over on the left a wild boar appeared, picking its way through the ruins.  The crossbowman, Luc Demic, noticed it first; and he called to the thug, Clol, and the thief, Kinny, to go see about the treasure that the wizard had telekinetically moved earlier, while he took care of the boar.  He turned, planted his feet, and fired; but his shot missed.  The boar had caught his scent however, and charged.  There wasn't time for the crossbowman to draw his dagger, and  brandishing the crossbow like a club, he laid a solid blow aside the boar's head just as it was upon him.  The wild animal went sprawling across the rubble covered street, dead.  He breathed a sigh of relief and looked over to where Kinny was recovering the first treasure, and gave her and Clol a thumbs up.
Dorchesman fights the other Sigilist's Captain, as the Sigilist's warhound chews on the thief's cape.
      Over on the right, the thief Dorchesman ran towards a bridge over a frozen creek that had a promising bundle lying on it.  Before he could get there he could see that men from the other Sigilist's band were going to get there first.  Realizing he was outnumbered, Dorchesman stopped in his tracks and tipped his hat at the opposing soldiers.  Before he could turn and go though, the other group's Captain came charging across the bridge at him. "I meant no offense!" Dorchesman called out, but onward the Captain came. "So that's how its going to be" he thought to himself, and drawing his dagger he assumed a defensive stance.  As the Captain dove at him, sword raised high, the agile thief dodged and thrust upward with his dagger catching the Captain in his exposed side.  The Captain stumbled backwards, shocked; and Dorchesman took the opportunity to turn and run back towards his own warband.
    While this was going on, Quail was still keeping an eye on the watchtower.  She began to wonder if there might be a treasure up there within it's crumbling walls. She looked up into the dark opening, just barely visible in the fading light, and spoke the words of casting  Teleport. She was a bit rusty on that spell, and forgot a phrase near the end; giving herself a headache and failing to move herself anywhere. (Failed spell by 9, equals -1 HP damage) She looked over at Bailey, who she could tell was still a little shaken from earlier efforts, and asked, "Can you get up there?" as she pointed to the tower.
Bailey balances precariously on the crumbling wall of the ruined watch tower. Luckily, the limited light kept her from being a target for every wizard, archer, and crossbow on the table. 
     Bailey nodded, and began to chant the words of the Teleport spell herself, eager to once again have a chance to show her abilities.   She misjudged her landing point however, and materialized a few feet above the place she had wanted to land, coming down hard on top of the stone wall. Her ankle twisted, and she felt a stab of pain. (Pushed spell for -3 HP damage) Worse, she was off balance and began to feel herself falling forward off the wall, and grabbed desperately at the crumbling stone on each side of her.   After a few tense moments she regained her footing, and despite her throbbing ankle carefully dropped down into the shadows of the tower to look for treasure.
     As the Apprentice stumbled in the darkness of the ruined tower she found what she was looking for; there was an old chest over to one side, covered in debris.  The young Apprentice smiled.  The Maga Librarian would be so pleased.  As she worked to free the chest, a misstep and a stab of pain reminded her of her ankle injury.  She got the chest secured then sat down, and grabbing the injured joint she spoke the words of Healing.  As she spoke the words of the spell,  the moon passed completely in front of the sun, causing almost complete darkness to fall over the ruined city.  Bailey felt a tingling in her fingertips, and a surge of magical energy flowed through her like a shiver running down her spine.
   Back on the city streets below the tower, Sir Cardidil standing guard by her side, Quail felt the same sensation.  She was so overcome by the strange tingling up her fingers and down her spine that she misspoke the incantation of Fog she was attempting and nothing more than a fine mist appeared for a moment and then dissipated.  "Well that was odd," she said to herself, and studied her hands for a moment.
Quail places a wall of Fog in the air by the tower to block the Wizard Eye of the Soothsayer, Gru.  Meanwhile, in the lower left of the photos, Kinny carries off a treasure under the protection of Clol and Luc Demic.
    The Sigilist, however,  didn't have time to think about the strange magical surge for long, as she realized her Apprentice was taking too much time up in the tower.  Quail called to the thug, Barc, to go over and stand guard at the base of the tower,  as she looked up at the structure and saw another cursed Wizard's Eye appear on it and blink as it looked down at her.  She once again attempted casting Fog, successfully this time, to block it's view.  The eclipse was moving now past the sun and while it was getting a little lighter she could see that the sun was lowering in the west.  She surely didn't want to be trapped anywhere near the city when darkness fell.
    Quail turned and saw Kinny was busy carrying off the first treasure chest to their rendezvous point, and as she looked up at the hill and the tower once more,  she saw Bailisette materialize from a Teleport spell right on the edge of the cliff along the hillside.  What was even better was that the Apprentice was carrying a treasure chest.  "Three treasure for a first foray into the city wasn't too bad",  the Librarian thought to herself, "But I think it's time to call it a day."  With that, she gave the signal for the remaining members of her band to make their way to the rendezvous point.
     As they walked back out of the ruins, on the outskirts of the city, they came upon an old abandoned tower sitting tall on a little hill.   Despite it having been ransacked by treasure hunters long ago, there was something about its strong stone walls and arches that reminded Quail of the buildings on the campus of her university.   What's more, looking up at its highest floor, she was pretty sure she would be able to have a very good view of the ruined city from up there, perched as it was upon the small hill; and having a bird's eye view of the city might help her decipher the old magical maps in the Felstad atlas she had brought.
The old abandoned tower on the hill
     "Let us camp here for the night" she said to her party. "With a little fixing up, this tower might be a good base for us to operate from, rather than hiking all the way back to the village every time we venture into the ruins.   And so the group began clearing out the old tower under the supervision of Sir Cardidil, as Quailelyn and her Apprentice sat to inspect the treasure they had recovered.
   The three chests they brought back were found to contain a combined 220 gold coins, as well as a Grimoire of Awareness, and one of Planar Tear.  There was also an ancient tome called "The Book of Bones".  Quail ran her fingers over the cover of the Awareness grimoire; that would be a good spell to know she thought. But she didn't have the time right now to learn it.  As for the other Grimoire, she had little interest for the Summoning arts, but the grimoire might offer her something if she took the time to read it.  
     As far as the "Book of Bones" went, she had a great distain for the study of Necromancy so had little interest in that dusty tome.  She did however know, through her dealings at the university library,  a dealer in ancient magical texts that might be interested in such a book.   And,  he might be willing to trade it for what she really wanted: a crystal magical magnifying glass which would help her to better see and interpret the magical maps in the old Felstad atlas. (Sell "Book of Bones" for 250 GC, and buy Crystal Ball for 250 GC).
        As Quail pondered other uses for the gold they had obtained, she thought she might buy the equipment necessary to promote the thief Dorchesman to a full fledged Treasure Hunter (80 GC), and the thug Barc to a Man-at-Arms (80 GC) For now though, she needed to go help the rest of the group get the tower suitable to live in; and plan for their next expedition into the ruined city.

Epilogue:   It was a fun game!  It was very different experience playing with a 0 level warband again.  I ended up being very hesitant to get involved in any combat.   For a first outing I was very pleased however to get three treasures, and Quail and Bailey managed 9 spells between them.  Though I wished I had been able to cast one more to get to an even 100 Experience Points for spell casting.  As it was, I got 150 Experience Points for the 3 treasure, 50 for Quail being on the table during the eclipse, and the 90 for the spells; giving me 290 total.

Here is the account of this session from the other Sigilist, the wizard Bemis: Darkness Falls

To continue following the Campaign with Game 2, see: Battle on the River

Friday, January 13, 2017

A Couple of Frostgrave Plastic Cultists

   At this past year's Fall-In convention I bought a box of the North Star Frostgrave Plastic Cultists, which I split with a friend; so I ended up with 10 of the figures. And, since our group is going to be starting our new Frostgrave Campaign next weekend and basing it off of the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" supplment book, I thought I should paint up a couple of the Cultists since they are one of the possible random encounters listed.
   The Cultist kit was typical of the other Frostgrave kits, with lots of interesting parts and accessories to choose from.  My only complaint is there seems to be an inordinate amount of skeletal parts to make undead warriors. I would have preferred more plain cultist options.
     I assembled two simple figures, and then glued them to 1" fender washers.  I then sprayed them with flat white spray primer.  When the primer was dry, I glued the figures to a tongue depressor for ease of holding during painting, and then I painted them and detailed the bases.

     I like how these figures turned out.   I think with the next ones I do I will try to move away from the all black outfits and try some different colors.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

My New Frostgrave Sigilist Warband

       As readers of this blog may know, our Frostgrave group is planning to start this year's new campaign this coming weekend.  So this past week I put the finishing touches on my new warband.  I decided to play a Sigilist wizard this time around. I didn't mess too much with the composition of the rest of the warband from what I did with my Illusionist last year; having a good fighter, a couple missile weapons, and a nice cadre of thieves and thugs for treasure recovery.
     For those who'd like to read a background story for my new wizard, see here: Frostgrave Prologue
The whole gang.

The Wizard, Quailelyn. The Apprentice, Bailisette. The Knight, Sir Cardidil

The Crossbowman, Luc Demic. The Archer, Sallisee.

The Thieves: Dorchesman, Kinny, and Innis Flin 

The Thugs: Clol, and Barc

Monday, January 9, 2017

Frostgrave North Star Plastic Soldier Female Conversion

      I needed a female human archer to complete my new Frostgrave warband, so thought I'd see if I could make one using the pieces from the North Star plastic Frostgrave soldiers set.  While I've heard it said that since the clothing on these figures is so bulky that any of them could be used as women, since the figure's shape wouldn't show through all the clothing layers anyway, I like it when figures that are supposed to be female actually look like a woman.   I didn't want to just sculpt breasts on one of the existing figures either, as that seldom turns out good.  So I thought about where I could find a female torso to use, and turned to either the Wargames Factory Amazon set, or Female Zombie set.  I didn't think the armor on the Amazons looked right for Frostgrave, so I selected one of the female zombie bodies from a spare sprue I had.
   I cut the the female zombie in half at the waist, and then cut one of the Frostgrave soldier bodies in half as well. I then glued the top of the zombie to the bottom of the Frostgrave soldier.  There is a significant size difference in the two waists, so my plan was to hide this shortfall with some of the many accessories that come with the Frostgrave Soldier set.  I added a head from the female zombie set, and then arms from the Frostgrave  Soldier set.  I needed to trim the upper arms a little as the shoulder areas on the female zombie torso are a bit smaller than the shoulder areas on the Frostgrave Soldier arms.   In the end, the bulky arms help hide the narrowness of the waist. I glued a backpack to her back, and a quiver on her front hip to aid in hiding the smaller waist.
   After the figure was assembled, I glued it to a 1" fender washer, and then spray primed it with flat white.  I then painted it.

     I'm really happy with how the end result turned out.  I think it makes for a pretty good looking female character, and will fit nicely in with my other Frostgrave figures.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

HAWKs' New Year's Eve Game-aganza!

      It has become the tradition with the HAWK's that every New Year's Eve Buck Surdu and his wife, Candy, host a gaming get-together to ring in the New Year.  This year was no exception; with a fun filled event full of good food, good friends, and good gaming.
    We started off in the afternoon with a Dr Who Christmas-themed game that I ran using GASLIGHT rules, called "The 12 Doctors of Christmas".    The scenario was that Santa had mysteriously disappeared and the allied forces of evil (Daleks, Cybermen, Sontarans, and Weeping Angels) were taking the opportunity to overthrow the North Pole.   Rallying against them were various North Pole Defenders. There were also seven incarnations of the Doctor, each with a single companion, (We didn't have enough players for all 12 Doctors) there to help solve the mystery of where Santa had gone.  Once they found Santa (assuming they did), they needed to get him aboard the TARDIS with one of the Doctors and fly him to safety.
The puzzle I made up for the Doctor Who game.
     While the battle between the North Pole Defenders and  the Allied Evil Forces was pretty straight forward, I decided to incorporate a puzzle for the Doctors to solve during the game.  To do this I borrowed an idea that my friend Sam Fuson uses to good effect in his GASLIGHT Sherlock Holmes games: I bought a cheap 24 piece puzzle at the local Dollar Tree store, and wrote the location of Santa on the back of the center 8 pieces of the puzzle.  (See photo above)  I then mixed up these pieces and put them in a brown paper bag.  Then, when I was setting up the terrain, I scattered 10 small present tokens on the table to represent "clues".  During the game, each time one of the Doctors spent a turn adjacent to one of these present "clues" he was able to "decipher the clue" by pulling a random puzzle piece from the bag.  Only the Doctors were able to decipher these clues, though other figures could bring the clues to any Doctor to decipher.  Likewise, the bad guys couldn't destroy clues, but they could pick them up and hold them, thus denying them to the other side.
A look at the table near the start of the 12 Doctors of Christmas game.  The good guys entered from the left, and the bad guys entered on the right.
      To make things more difficult for the Doctors, I had 3 different colored spheres on the table (Christmas Ornaments turned into terrain) , so just the "SPHERE" puzzle piece wouldn't give the answer away immediately. And I had several red objects on the table, so jus the "RED" card wouldn't give the answer away to early either. 
Some Weeping Angels guard a present token "clue" in one of the train cars.
     In the end, it worked out perfectly, as the Doctors recovered present tokens, and then drew the cards in this order: "IN", "TRAPPED", "RED", "SPHERE".  Also, they drew the last card just as the battle was reaching its peak, and swirling around the very red sphere where Santa was hidden.
The 11th Doctor checks out a "clue" as the snow monster from Frozen, and the Bumble fight in a melee nearby.  Sontarans line the fence, and are being pelted by snowball-throwing kids, and magical snowmen with peppermint-stick guns. 
With the forces of evil closing it, it was Elsa (Yes, that Elsa, from Frozen!) who was able to shoot an icy bolt which shattered the sphere and freed Santa, just as the North Pole Defenders were collapsing.  On the next Doctor card,  the TARDIS was summoned, and Santa was able to get on board.  
Toy Soldiers attempt to hold back a unit of Cybermen and some Daleks. Note the red sphere where Santa is trapped.
     In the final two turns however, the forces of Evil were able to tighten their noose, and no Doctor was able to make it to the TARDIS to fly Santa to safety.  With no hope of the Doctors succeeding, I called the game and declared it a marginal Evil side victory.
As the clues come together, the forces from both sides begin to converge on the sphere.
    The game turned out to be a real nail-biter, going right down to the final turns as the remaining Doctors tried desperately, and failed, to get to the TARDIS.  It was a lot of fun for the players as well as me in the roll of GM.
     After the game, we packed it up, and then took a break for a yummy beef stew dinner.   
At last Santa is freed, but it may be too late!
     We reconvened after dinner for a WWII game using "Combat Patrol" rules, which Buck Surdu GMed.   The scenario had American glider troops trying to grab a German held bridge that ran over a river.
    I commanded a German reinforcement squad that entered from the table edge on turn 2.
The game began with fierce melee on the far side of the bridge.
      I decided to enter mounted on a halftrack that was commanded by another player.  This unfortunately resulted in my squad having to disembark in two different locations, and becoming split up.  I then thought the halftrack was going to give me fire support with it's MG, but instead it pulled out right as I was preparing to attack an enemy unit.  I was caught between a rock and a hard place and ended up getting my two fireteams shredded.  
The halftrack driver fails a morale check and ends up driving the vehicle up onto the bridge.  It is quickly overrun with American's and is eventually captured after a spirited defense by the crew. 
     Unfortunately, my fellow defenders were faring no better than I, and the American superior firepower was able to quickly overcome our defenses.    With the collapse of our ability to hold the objective, the game was declared an American victory.  Despite our dismal performance the game was still a lot of fun!
The Americana's prepare for the final push across the river.
      It was now getting close to midnight, so we decided to set up a quick X-Wing game to fill the remaining time.  I was exhausted at this point so opted to sit this one out and just chatted with the other guests.
The X-wing game that lasted two years; starting in 2016, and ending in 2017. :) 
  At midnight  everyone came and watched the ball drop, and toasted the New Year with some champagne.  The diehards then went on to complete the X-Wing game, as the rest of us sat around and talked about the year behind us and the one ahead.
The gang toasts the New Year.
     It was a great evening and is truly one of the high points of the Holiday season.  A big thanks goes out to the Surdu family for once again hosting an excellent evening of fun!