Monday, 21 April 2014

For the glory of the Dalek Empire

Align and advance!
Advance and attack!
Attack and destroy!
- Daleks in the First Doctor adventure "The Chase"

Introducing my Imperial Dalek force, assembled and painted for the recent invasion of the Lake District. Back during Blog-Con last year, I was chatting with Thantsants and Warlord Paul and commented on the fact that not only was it the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, but it was also the 25th anniversary of Remembrance of the Daleks, the story that has lodged itself most firmly in my childhood memory.

In that storyline, 1960s Earth becomes the battlefield for a clash between the "purestrain" Renegade Daleks, and the Imperial Daleks, who had been "augmented" with parts of cryogenically frozen bodies... all the while the Seventh Doctor manipulates the Dalek forces in a most Machiavellian manner. Thantsants already had a force of daleks painted up as Renegade Daleks, so we made an agreement that I'd paint up an Imperial Dalek force and fight a Dalek Civil War.

The end result... well, let's just say I never want to have to paint gold and white ever again! I ordered my minis from Black Tree Design during their Black Friday sale back in November. Due to various mix-ups (which in the end Black Tree Designs were very apologetic about), I didn't get hold of them until February, and got to work assembling them. I think the models are lovely, and I've always coveted them since they were made by Harlequin back in the 90s... and at the sale price, they were an absolute bargain. (Black Tree Design seem to have regular sales, so sign up for their newsletter keep an eye out.) Unfortunately, time has not been kind to the moulds, and there's some minor loss of detail and pretty horrible flash, so much of my time was spent cleaning that up. It was impossible to completely clean up the mins due to the locations of the flash between the roundels and deep in the vents. Ideally, they need to make new moulds, but probably they can't do that due to licensing restrictions? Anyway, eventually after filing and cutting for hours, they were ready to put together, and then it was just a matter of painting masses of gold detail! I think I'm going to retire my gold paint now, horrible stuff and I never want to use it again.

All of these gripes aside, I'm actually rather pleased with how the army appears en masse. As with much of my painting, peer a bit closer and the flaws become visible, but having tidied them up a little I'm happy with their appearance all the same.
My force takes a few liberties with the Doctor Who canon (as does Thantsants' force), but what's the point of a long and convoluted history if you can't play around with it and splice it to your own devices? Alongside the classic Imperial Dalek warriors and Heavy Weapons Daleks from Remembrance of the Daleks, I've bought the Dalek Emperor from the Second Doctor story "The Evil of the Daleks" to act as supreme commander of my forces, and I've also got Slythers and Robomen from the First Doctor story "The Dalek Invasion of Earth" to serve as henchmen/ pawns/ all purpose cannon fodder. I especially like the Slyther miniatures because they are such a faithful depiction of a man in a plastic bag costume with some plant matter stuck to him.

For the Dalek Civil war (battle reports to follow in the weeks ahead) we used Daniel Faulconbridge's "Doctor Who: Invasion Earth" rules, published by Harlequin in 1996.

These are a fun, simple and fast moving set of rules - each model has a list of permissable actions (Move/ shoot/ hide/ assault, etc.) to choose from in a game turn; not all models can do all actions (Daleks are useless at hiding, but they can levitate; Engineer Daleks can "fix", etc.), hence each type of model has its own list; weapons are more or less effective at different ranges (from point blank to extreme), with modifiers for cover, moving and shooting, etc. Lots of D6 rolling, but things move swiftly enough to really concentrate on storyline and overall strategy. I think that with repeat playing, one would probably want to augment the rules and add more detail to them; but for the purposes of our mini-campaign they worked very nicely and accomodated everything we needed (land rovers ramming and destroying daleks, heavy weapons blasts wiping out handfuls in a single shot, and so on and so forth). I'm all for the strategic detail of 3rd edition warhammer, but all the same on this occasion it was nice to have a stripped-down ruleset that could really take a back seat to the unfolding story.

All in all, nice to "archaeogame" this 1990s ruleset, and to finally live out my dream of commanding a dalek army. Any of you guys have experience with Doctor Who: Invasion Earth?

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