Friday, November 7, 2014

Axles & Alloys Racing!

Gentlemen, start your engines!
Those words are never spoken in the Deadzone.  
Instead, gangs put forth racers for the 'Deadzone Championship'. Little more than an excuse to blow the living hell out of rival gang members and then crow about it, the "DC" is held in a neutral location (at least for the duration of the race) and is the only thing the gangs consider sacrosanct.
That was the hook...
After discussion with a couple of group members, I decided to give this aspect of A&A a whirl. I had recently thrifted some ZipZap cars and track pieces (they look like Jersey barriers), which propelled this back-burner project to the fore.
I decided to build a "figure 8" track, knowing full well that the middle was going to become a hotbed of contention. I also included napalm, smokescreens and speed reduction strips (SRS) as part of this track to make things more interesting.
The race was played differently than in the A&A rules. The players have three cars to use: one light, one medium and one heavy. They can race them in any order they choose, but can have only one vehicle on the course at a time. Vehicles enter from the left-hand gap in the wall (as seen in the above photo) and have the choice of leaving the race through the right-hand gap or continuing on subsequent laps. If a vehicle leaves the race, it can't re-enter. Another of the player's vehicles can only enter when the previous is off the track. Starting speed is between 0-6. Each lap completed equals one point. Five points wins the race.
So, with jalapeno poppers, peanuts and adult beverages primed, we began.
For our race, the action started hot and heavy.  In the first round, the SRS in the middle of the intersection had everyone jockeying for position to hit the initial gap without being toasted by those around them.

photo courtesy of The Penny Whistle blog
I had the only light vehicle on the track, so I shot out to the lead, clearing room and allowing the 'big boys' to tussle.  The first 'kill' of the day occurred when John Mark's vehicle collided with Ken's monster truck.  You can see the results below.  This was the beginning of a series of collisions in that general area of the track.  This eventually created a 'choke point' that was difficult to navigate.
I kept speeding up, but had to slow down in the first loop.  Terry's Jeep was right behind me, its missile launcher a consistent threat.  I not only had to be faster than Terry, I also had to be faster than his missiles!  I kind of felt like the teenager running from the walking serial killer in a slasher flick....or the cat damsel running from Pepe lePew.  Anyway, my speed was what eventually caught me in the second bend...
Rounding the bend, I lost control and drifted into a patch of napalm, catching my car on fire.  My speed was high enough that I then rocketed straight into the side of a rock formation.  My driver, Pinkie, was ejected from the buggy and laid unconscious on the track.  Prime pickings for Terry!
One less Pinkie in the world...
Meanwhile, further back on the track, Kenny and John Mark were yet again making a scrum of it.  This time, John Mark came out on top, sending Kenny's truck careening into a wall.  He then zipped around the ever-more-dangerous first turn of the race in his "fishbat" car.
Terry's Jeep, 'the Dutch Oven', managed to complete a lap, earning him one point.  It stayed on the track and was quickly given a "how you do" by my medium vehicle, 'the Fez'.  Wounded, it continued on its inexorable way through lap two.  
Kenny's second vehicle managed to make it around the track once before meeting Terry in the middle.
Passing Pinkie's corpse

It didn't go well for Ken.  It did manage to knock Terry around a bit, though.  He had to do some deft driving to get back on the right course.

There was much jockeying, ramming and shooting in the second lap, with casualties piling up.  The Fez had no choice but to ram the back end of the Dutch Oven and was soon added to the list of casualties.  Would anyone stop Terry?

Ken did.  In a stroke of brilliant driving, he power slid to right in front of Terry, forcing yet another ramming situation.  The damage to Dutch Oven was too great and the Jeep finally gave out.

By the end of the night, the tally was as follows:

1. Terry - One point, two vehicles left
2. Ted - One point, one vehicle left
3. Ken - One point, no vehicles left
4. John Mark - Zero points, no vehicles left

Terry took home the Deadzone League trophy (a surprise to the group, as I hadn't announced I'd made a trophy for this).  Here's me presenting the trophy, fez intact (even if the car that I was wearing it for wasn't), and Terry enjoying the moment.

Photo courtesy of the Penny Whistle blog

Photo courtesy of the Penny Whistle blog

All in all, a fun night.  We hashed out some things that can be improved in future races, but I think the first attempt was a success.

Tutorial: 1/64 scale Tire Stacks

In my group's quest to complete an Axles and Alloys campaign (more on that later), I started thinking about how to make "towns" and "centers" of humanity (think Mad Max II's refinery).

A quick Google search for pics of Mad Max II only shows three photos from the movie: a long shot of the entire refinery complex and then two stills of a gang member getting toasted by a flamethrower in front of the refinery's gate.  After studying the photos, I saw that I'd need to make tire stacks as walls for either side of the gate.  Another quick Google search of "How to make miniature tire stacks" utterly failed.  Another try, using "How to make HO scale tire stacks" yielded what I needed from a page on  Below is my tutorial on making these cool stacks.

Parts list:
Sharp blade (X-Acto, box knife, etc)
Cutting board
Rubber hose
Hot glue
White glue
Cardboard/Mat board
wooden craft stick
Needlepoint grid
Paint and brushes
Toy car tires (optional)

I went to my local hardware store and bought two, one foot segments of flexible tubing of different diameters.  I wanted the tires to be of different sizes, so made sure to buy two different kinds of tubing.  Total cost was $1.25.

The tubes' surfaces were smooth, so I used sandpaper to roughen them so they'd take paint easier. I then cut the tubing into sections, making sure to vary my width to simulate different tires.

Note - Make sure that you lay the tubing flat, with the curved ends pointing down.  If you don't, you stand the risk of making irregularly shaped tires.  This can be useful for making leaning stacks, but they may look "off" to the discerning eye.

When that bit was completed, I then separated the pieces into four groups.  My reasoning was that if we are running two scenarios at the same time and they are both attacks on compounds, I'll need two sets of stacks.  I wanted the bigger tire stacks flanking the entrances, so made sure to use the larger pieces of hose first.  I threw in a few toy tires for effect.  Next, I cut the mat board (you can use cardboard) into 1" x 4" strips.  This proved longer than I needed, but the extra length provided me with a place to hold the pieces during construction.

The stacking process was simple:  Hot glue the pieces together.  I started by gluing the bases onto the mat board and then layered up from there.  I used my tallest vehicle (i.e, Motherload) as my gauge for the wall's height.  I figured that if the driver of the vehicle can't see over the wall, then it's tall enough.  When the larger sections were finished, I started on stacks using the smaller tires.  As you can see from the pictures, I used toy tires to "cap off" the stacks.

After all four walls were built, I used an old brush and applied white glue over the entire surface area to give the tires more texture and solidity.  I tried to use brush strokes that moved around the circumference of the tires so I could have "tread" when I painted them.

Allowing for drying time, I cut out some needlepoint grid (aka granny grid) to use as ladders.  I think the results look great!  I also cut small pieces of craft stick to use as platforms for the weapons that will eventually be on top of the stacks.  I glued all of these bits into place and again let the glue dry.

Next, it was time to primer the stacks with black paint and then drybrush gray onto the tires.  I used metallic gray on the ladder and platforms.  Orange and brown inks and Georgia Clay orange paint created both dust/dirt and rust stains on everything.

Voila!  Tire stacks!  Now, onto building the actual land the towns sit upon!  That's another tutorial...