Friday, May 28, 2010

Battle Report - Cool New Game Spotted...

Last night Dallas ran a test game of his very cool Star Wars game featuring micro fighters and an Imperial Star Destroyer. Space battles for Star Wars are a lot of fun, but one of the challenges in gaming that aspect of the setting has always been coming up with something where the fighters are in some kind of relevant scale to the starships. The incredible size of many of the warships (which is very cool for the setting) certainly adds to the challenge. The half-assed attempt by the Star Wars Ship Battles game (in which the ships are in scale "with each class") is a sign that few entities are inclined to bother with addressing it.

Thankfully, Dallas has come up with something, using micro fighters and model of a Star Destroyer, that is both in scale, and thanks to a clever adaptation of the increasingly all-purpose Lord of the Rings rules from GW, very cool to play!

Some of the Rebel fighters from the game last night

The scenario involved a rebel fighter wing sent to halt a Star Destroyer before it did something negative to the Rebel Alliance i.e. sent a warning, attacked a base, jammed the free pay-per-view satellite etc. The details were not too important, as it was a test game. The Star Destroyer was able to defend itself with a formidable array of point defence lasers as well as a willing horde of TIE fighters.

That's right - it's in scale!!!

The rebel attack wing featued X-wings, A-wings, Y-wings and the adbsurd, just-about-anything-can-count-as-a-vessel-in-Star-Wars B-wings (side note - my ranting aside, I believe that in the genre, the B-wing is regarded as a formidable craft). There was some variability to the stats to reflect the strengths of the various craft. The rebels had to get past the TIE fighters and hammer away at the Star Destroyer, with the option of going for the shield generators in a hope to make the ship more vulnerable.

In the game last night, we lost a couple of flights of X-wings, but managed to knock out the shields and give a pretty good licking to the Star Destroyer. However, it was a test game, so not exactly victory-lap performance. But I can say with confidence that it is very damn cool, and in fact we are already bugging Dallas to find transports and other ships so different scenarios can be done!

Watch for this one at Prairiecon in two weeks! Next week we'll do a test run of the Robotech game, so hope to see you then.

Friday, May 21, 2010

My Tiny H.M.S. Victory

I've just finished my last batch of British ships of the line for the battle of Trafalgar. Among them was the H.M.S. Victory and I thought it would be a a good opportunity to document how I built her. I used the following web sites for visual references:

This is what you get when you open a GHQ blister. Note that there are anchors and boats, but I don't usually use them. I made an exception for the Victory, though.

The parts are cleaned then the hull is assembled and glued on to a base. To fit the masts, holes have to be drilled in the deck. It's a little tricky for the Victory model because of the layout of the internal casting. All the other castings are easier to deal with. It's better to use a dremmel tool with a very small bit for this operation.
The hull is basecoated "Golden Yellow", then washed with "Flesh Wash". Because I don't like to use spray cans in winter time, the model was not primed. I know, it's wargaming heresy. After the wash is dry, the deck is painted "Kommando Khaki" and details added with "Scorched Brown" and "Bestial Brown".

Then the black trimming is done. The checkered pattern really gives the hull it's British look. Only for the Victory, I've highlighted the details at the bow and stern, and painted the figurehead. I've also added boats, but only 3 out of the 5 she normally carries. I find that the trims and the gun ports are a little chubby compared to the real ship.
The masts have to be painted separately, otherwise it would be near impossible to paint the details on the deck. First, the bare metal sails (still no primer) was basecoated "Bleached Bone". Then I used "Sail Wash", which is simply "Flesh Wash" thinned down with water 1/3. To give volume to the sails, I've decided to add "faux shade". It may look silly on close-ups, but at a distance it looks nice. See the last picture of this entry to see the effect. The masts are painted yellow, the same way as the hull. Apparently, this was to help the crews distinguish friendly ships from enemy ones in close actions. Finally, black details are added. Sails take more time to paint than the hull and are a real test to one's patience. On the 60 ships I need for Trafalgar, there are 180 masts with 3 sails each...

Now it's rigging time! Here is a comparison between the "symbolic" rigging I've done to all my ships so far (in this case, a fellow 100 guns, the Britannia) and the extra rigging I've done for Victory. For the symbolic rigging, one single 30cm string is used and twisted to give this look. For the extra rigging on the Victory, I had to drill micro holes and use about 150cm of threads. String ends are secured with super glue. I've also added an extra sail on the bow mast and 4 anchors out of the 5 she normally carries. My initial plan was to do extra rigging on Victory, Bucentaure and Santissima Trinidad, but now I think I will be content with only one ship done this way.

The base is painted. First dark blue, then layers of paler colors are added. Here the Britannia sails in the direction opposite to the Victory to show what the trail looks like.

The final step is to add the name on the base and to cover the water surface with a coat of artist gel. It creates a nice contrast between the "dryness" of the hull and the "wetness" of the sea surface. To give an idea of the scale, I've put a tooney in front of the Britannia.

In this picture, the Victory leads the Weather Column at Trafalgar. The other column, the Lee Column, lead by Collingwood, when properly spaced, is about 4 feet long. Obviously, it will take a very large surface to recreate the battle. Trivia: What's the name of that lonely ship heading away from the column?

It this picture, the British meet the French section of the Allies at Trafalgar. The Spanish section is still in the shipyard. I just need to paint 14 more ships out of 60, plus a few frigates and odd ships, and project Trafalgar will be done. Since the sails are all the same colors and the hull are too small to be clearly distinguished, what really helps to identify friends from foes is the color of the name tags. I Spy game for kids: can you spot the Victory in the lot? Can you spot the only Spanish ship in the lot?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

GW Introduces new Greater Daemon - wait...

I don't know what it is about Olympic movements - a unique fusion of excessive involvement by political types, bizarre arts types, sponsors and lots and lots of committee think - but they always seem to have weird mascots. London 2012 has not disappointed.....

Out in time for the new codexes and the latest edition of Fantasy, these models are sure to literally cause fear...

Since these absurd creations are actually being sold soon, I think we need to get some of the correct scale and work them into a 40k game of some kind. Either that, or SpaceKrieg - would love to figure that scenario out!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Final Defeat for Future Gordon Brown

Future Gordon Brown is briefed on the outcome of the engagement

Well, given the few highs and many lows of Gordon Brown's prime-ministership, it is hardly surprising to see the future mimics the present when it comes to the exploits of Future Gordon Brown and the FutureBrits in our entertaining SpaceKrieg setting.

Since the British electorate has now deprived us of Gordon Brown, last week we played a tribute game to the hapless outgoing UK PM. Set on the otherwise non-threatening Planet K, the sinister FuturKom has marshalled a Device Of Widespread Annihilation. At the (possibly enabled) insistence of FutureHansBlix, a coalition of Gün Schwarm and FutureBrits swung into action to protect interplanetary order and secure the DOWA for, er, "research" purposes. This represented Future Gordon Brown's last gambit at achieving a military success which might convince the voters of FutureUK to at least accept his party in some kind of coalition government.

Dallas' outstanding "DOWA", a 1/48 SCUD missile model kit, made for an awesome objective

The game was set on a 6'x4' table, with the DOWA and accompanying FutureKom escort in the middle. Dallas and the elusive Cam rolled with the Kom, while Mike F pushed his hard working Brtis, and I went with the Schwarm.

An odious FutureKom detachment prepares to escape with the DOWA, aided by the ubiquitous T-340s

Mike and I set the Schwarm and the Brits in a blockade on either side. The Kom had to get the DOWA off one of the short edges of the table. Beyond establishing that the "Coalition" side could not fire direclty on the DOWA, we really did not get too precise about the conditions, but as it turned out this didn't matter, since the Coalition turned in a pretty lousy performance.

FutureBrit troops move into position, privately relieved that FutureKom seems to want to run over the other guys instead...

Dallas and Cam opted to try and push through the GünSchwarm line, which I thought was foolhardy. After all, I had a Space Panther and the beloved Schwarm-Bot. How could we not prevail?

"Seriously - there are no enemy troops out there - now stay off the radio...

Pretty easily, as it turns out. Try as I might, I could not convince the Panther crew to spot anything, and the tank was ultimately knocked out by the Cam and Dallas' T-340s. Schwarm-Bot had a good time knocking out some FutureKom suits, but overall added little to the battle other than a few beeps and a pleasant retro-GW figure vibe. The Kom broke through my line easily, spearheaded by a few bomb zombies. Hardly Operation Bagration material...

Artist image of Gün Schwarm Space Panther commander

The Brits had a not-great outing too, but to give Mike F credit, his lads ultimately got their stuff together and began to mow down the Kommies. By that time, the DOWA was just about safely off the opposite table edge. In the very last turn of the game, my Gün Grenadiers realized how bad they were going to look in the after action report, so they suddenly took the safeties off their weapons and shredded some FuturKom troops, but this was way too little, too late. I talked smack about a Gav Thorpe moral victory, but the fact is that the Kom got the job done, and will now be able to threaten Planet K with a DOWA. No doubt Future Nick Clegg will be gloating at this last set back Future Gordon Brown.

"Another example of the failure of Future Gordon Brown!"

If this is a sign of the abilities of Coalitions, I fear for the people of the UK.

Up next will be some warm up games for Prairie Con, which the Conscripts will be rolling out to Shock and Awe once again this year. Thanks to Dallas for hosting, and to everyone who rolled out!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Elysian Update - New Officer and New Bases

Back to some painting again, with the excellent NHL playoffs kindly offering up several seven-game marathon playoff series which provide the perfect backdrop for progress. I'm continuing to work on the Elysian force, determined to get these chaps ready for a 1500 point game before August.

Up first is the new Captain and a couple of new recruits. The Elysians do have a lineup of officer models (including a chap with a power fist) but I wanted a model that would really stand out as the senior officer in charge of all this cool, flying kit. Although the "Commander" was my favourite officer of the Rogue Trader collection, what I liked about the Captain is the crossed sabres on the cap. I thought it mixed well with the theme.

Someone show me where the Valkyries are!

I was really pleased with how this retro Rogue Trader-era chap turned out. Definitely stands out from the other Elysian troops, but still fits in closely thanks to the spare arms. I figure that will be OK for a senior officer. I have some other spare "command section" guys from the Rogue Trader lineup, and I am toying with trying to covert them too, but I might just leave well-enough alone. I'm not sure the whacky helmet of the old standard bearer would look that good in the army.

I also went back to some previously completed Elysian models for a re-basing project. Readers may recall my whingeing about how the Elysian figure line involved several two-man team variants for the special weapons like melta guns . This was annoying because it did not fit well into the 40k rules, plus was it was totally annoying on a subjective basis. And hey, it's all about me....

Well, in Regina I noticed an Ork player had some of their adbsurd oversize bikes mounted on non-square, rounded-edge cavalry bases. I asked where he obtained them, and was surprised to learn they came with the figures, meaning that GW had created a new base! I picked up a few, popped out my melta-gunners from their two-man bases and tried out the new bike bases. The results of the experiment are below.

Melta-gunners - just wanted to be able to see other people...

I'm glad to have the melta guns as singles, although the one guy with no melta-gun looks a bit disconnected from anything relevant (now that I think about it, I should have piled through the bits box and put a plasma gun on the base or something). Overall the fit is not too bad with the other regular troops. The rounded edges make a big difference in helping the models "fit in".

I have approximately 30 infantry models left to go....hopefully I can make a big dent in that pile this weekend.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recent Progress

I finally got my act together and took pictures of my recent projects. The first 3 pics are of my Space Marine loyalist chapter: The Brotherhood of Steel. Anyone familiar with the Fallout games will know that they are one of the good factions in the post-apoc setting. Actually, they're about as close as your likely to get in the wasteland to a "good" faction. I say that because they're kinda @$$holes. Their mission is to preserve human progress and technology and that rarely requires the preservation of any human. Humans are replaceable, a plasma gun isn't. I think that fits perfectly with Imperial ideology.
My current project is my Bretonnian Army. I've had this since 2005 and logically kept it in a bin since then. I only ever opened said bin to scavenge bases for some modern stuff. With 8th edition on the way, I decided to get these guys ready. The peasants are on the block first.

As a distraction I quickly did up some GZG ships. The top one are New Swabian and the bottom are New Israel.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elysian Progress

I am trying to move forward with my Elysian figures. They paint so fast that I blew through the first couple of packages of troops I had assembled. Then I wandered off to a couple of vehicle models that will be supporting them, and before I knew it, the momentum had stalled. I've never been good at focusing, but I do want to get these fellows ready, so for a start I thought I should build all of the remaining figures before firing up the painting assembly line once again.

Mass production under way at the Greg B cave

I was also looking for an officer that would stand out a bit, so I thought I would try this old-school Rogue-Trader era Imperial Guard captain. I love the Rogue Trader Imperial Guard figures, and a recent Rogue Trader game at Dallas' place (hey Dallas - post the pictures!) made me think that trying to include an RT model of some kind in this force would be a good piece of nostalgia/homage.

The officer's cap on this model has a pair of crossed sabres, which I think fits the Elysian look. The arms are not a great mix - leaner-looking than the chubbier Captain, but hopefully it will fit well when painted. Mike F had suggested a yellow scarf to emulate Duval's character in the film "Apocalypse Now", but I think I'll stop here for now.

Hmmm....I hope the arms fit a little better once this model is painted

I also have a squad of Elysian veterans. They have shotguns (which look really cool), but unfortunately these packs featured a lot the Forgeworld downsides, including tons of flash and bent gun barrels. Hot water helped save most of the gun barrels, but the flash was frigging annoying....

At ForgeWorld, quality is Job #7

The real hilarity comes when you read on the package about how the models are produced using the best techniques....right - it's all the resin's fault....

Once I have all these guys painted, the infantry component of my starter force will be mostly complete - a command group, three squads of regulars, a squad of veterans, and a special weapon squad with melta guns. I would still need a platoon command group, but with the Guard army list, you can take veterans as a troop choice, so I may try to run it initially as an all-veteran force.

I may add some other odds and ends, like heavy bolter or missile launcher teams for the squads, and things like a Commissar and the advisors. But the bulk of the grunts should be in place.

Of course, the harder part will be finishing the air component. This bunch will need five Valkyries to ride around in, and I've only finished one! One problem at a time....