Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Team Yankee


My friend Graham Worsfield has been talking about Team Yankee and his Chieftan tanks.  For me 15mm WW3 games are out of the question given I only have a 40 x 45 inch table.  It would be hard enough to have large games fighting over the Fulda Gap in 1/300th, let alone 15mm.

I only mention this in passing, not because I'm getting into the game, but rather taking advantage of the plastic tanks they're doing.  In particular the Abrams and T72s.  My AK47R project has been languishing unloved in a box going nowhere for a number of years, six to be precise.  This was down to me becoming dissatisfied with the basing conventions of the game, which meant every thing ground to a halt and then I saw some thing else that was shiny.

However, given some recent navel gazing, pondering on wargame scales and toy soldiers – all very deep and meaningful stuff I can assure you – I'm feeling a bit more love for my 15mm lead pile.  So this is me planning, plotting and preparing for when TooFat Lardies release Fighting Season, which I intend to use as the basis for Mogadishu inspired games.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Plastic Ogre Miniatures Success


As the KickStarter page says, "1,529 backers pledged $124,628 to help bring this project to life."
Well done.
As you can see from the picture you get a shed ton of miniatures, and can also buy them with the colours reversed: blue Ogres and red vehicles or green Ogres and vehicles.  I imagine for the majority of players they will be happy to use them as is and won't end up painting them.
Now the question is when will Steve Jackson Games bring out an edition of Ogre with miniatures inside the box?
You may not agree with me when I say that the future of the game lies in broadening its appeal with plastic miniatures, but my guess is that the cardboard version appeals to old grognards for nostalgia reasons: it's like the original game, but larger so that I can read the writing on the counters now that I'm old and can't read the original chits even with my glasses on.
As marketing strategies go that one is time limited.  The future lies in attracting new players to the game, but I could be wrong.  Only time will tell.
Still, very excited to see the return of Ogre miniatures.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Size Comparisons


In the comments of a previous post Sitzkreig asked, "Will the accos be manned as well or autonomous drones in your world?"

I hadn't given it any thought because as things stand at the moment I've not written any scenes with anything other than the large walker I showcased here.   Pokhodnaya Boyevaya Platforma or Object 295 is the enemy machine that one of my characters encounters in my second novel.  But obviously nothing operates in isolation and I have been giving some consideration to its role and how it fits within a force.

That force will have platoon equivalents with some heavy support.  Object 295 is one of two support elements that will be attached to a formation containing smaller walkers.  I've previewed the command variant and in the picture above you can see in the background what I've made up to represent another walker variant.  My plan is to have a command walker with four of the new variants and three Accos attached to each:  for a total of seventeen walkers with two heavy walkers attached.

However, that doesn't answer the question of, are the Accos manned or drones?  I pondered that question for a while, and thought about how much easier it would be to source 15mm figures, rather than using the limited range of poses available in 10mm.  So I decided to do a size comparison with real tanks to the same scale: a Sheridan, an M60 and a Russian prototype Object 640 – a T80U variant with an extra road wheel that was never put into production.

Comparing the Accos to the Sheridan, I think it is large enough to be a manned walker and makes it more plausible that the larger walkers have multiple crew members.  I think three, consisting of a driver, gunner and commander.  This is interesting as it means that in my future universe the Russians are not relying on expert system AIs to run everything.  That makes the Accos a bit unusual because they aren't large enough for three crew.  And then I had another thought, as one does, since they're so small they're probably are air-droppable by parachute.

And that is how one does world building without really trying.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Science Fiction Wargaming: The Three Rs


Over on Neil Shucks Meeples & Miniatures podcast Henry talked about his decision to resign as editor of Miniature Wargames, and mentions what he sees as a problem with SF wargaming: namely it's not a unified community in any shape or form, being driven by ranges from manufacturers.  An obvious example being Warhammer 40K from Games Workshop.  The implication being that SF wargamers tend towards one system and setting, though I would add that most of my friends tend to mix it up and play in more than one manufacturers universe.

So, for example I tend to be thought of as a BattleTech grognard, at one time it would've been Battletech for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a late night snack of BattleTech before going to bed.  However, as readers of this blog know I also have an extensive collection of Steve Jackson Games Ogre and GEV game miniatures, which have also graced this blog, and I've been know to wibble on about the game at great length.  And then there's Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear range that I've gotten into over the last few years.

I should also add that I'm also into StarWars: X-Wing from Fantasy Flight Games, and have in the past played the odd game of Star Trek Star Fleet Battles from Amarillo Design Bureau.

However, perhaps I'm not necessarily a typical SF wargamer?

There is an element of truth that SF wargames are compartmentalized by brand/universe setting.  In fact one could argue that all the successful SF wargames have a strong brand/universe setting, because without the setting what is one actually playing?  And furthermore, without a setting, how does one come to an agreement about how to play a game set in a hypothetical future?

Fantasy gaming also has a similar problem with, for example, Lord of the Rings versus Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but the one thing they do have in common is the extensive mythology from historical cultures.  Even if the trolls from Norse mythology are not the same as say the trolls from Runequest, one doesn't have to explain that a troll is a monster, only the nature of the beast.

There again there are the common SF tropes, which I will boil down to the three Rs of science fiction: Rockets, Robots, and Rayguns.

But, once you get past the basics what is actually the common denominator?  I'm into robots – BattleTech and Heavy Gear – but my friend John Treadaway is into Hammer's Slammers and Silent Death, and we disagree on the relative realism of walking tanks versus hover tanks.  Whereas in Fantasy no one I know is arguing that trolls are less realistic than goblins.  The root of this is the difference between science fiction and fantasy: one is rooted in historical based reality the other in mythology and beliefs about forces outside of human understanding.

Is there an answer to this?

Probably not, and does there need to be one because what we're talking about is playing games.  However, it does seem to explain Henry's assertion about the lack of a central community for SF wargames.  Personally, one of the reasons I play SF games is because I free of community group thinking about what is right or wrong in the games I want to play.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Steve Jackson Plastic Ogre Miniatures

I'm not in the position to run with this, but I'm sure some of you who read my blog might be interested in these.  KickStarter link.


Friday, 4 November 2016


I haven't done a film or TV review for a while, though the real reason for this post today is because I'm a bit under the weather and this is a nice distraction.

I bought the 2014 version of Hercules staring Dwayne Johnson from Amazon after seeing a review of the WSS Ancient Warfare blog.  The direct link is here.  From reading the review one might think why bother?  However, I quite like Dwayne Johnson, so I took a chance and bought the Blu-ray.

What to say?  Yes the Ancient Warfare blog author is right at every point, but Hollywood films are not documentaries, and getting tied up in knots over egregious historical inaccuracies is pointless.  What one does get is a fun film with a great cast: John Hurt, Rufus Sewell and Ian McShane for a start, and we both really enjoyed it.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Next Wave Of Russian Walkers


Snip, snick went the snippers, snickecty-snack, snick, snick they went some more, and one-by-one the pile of parts did grow.

And here's a quick work in progress shot of a bunch of Heavy Gear plastic Caprice mecha snipped off their sprues waiting for me to find some time to clean them up and assemble them.  Things are a bit busy at the moment, hence the briefness of this post with a couple of writing deadlines hanging over me.  So I'll catch you all on the bounce next week, when hopefully, I will have made some progress.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Russian Federation Walkers


I like Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear miniatures.  Small giant robot walking tanks, what's not to like?  However, as is my won't, the chance of me playing in their Terra Nova setting is minimal, not because it's not a great setting, I would go so far to say it's one of the best SF RPG setting books ever published, but because I like to do things my way.

Here's my Meggido-Kadesh-Bashan kitbash: perhaps I should call it a Mekabashan?  Perhaps not.  It is meant to be a command variant, hence all the extra gribbly bits, which I think makes it look interesting.

I'm using the Caprice walkers as a basis for my own near future setting as Russian Federation combat armours:  combat armours being sit and drive large power armour suits.  Clearly Russian combat armour is designed to deal with soft ground, from all the snow Russia gets.

The generic name for these in Russian is Pokhodnaya Boyevaya Platforma or PBP, my first conversion of a Caprice Ammon, which I called Object 295, can be see here.

I also made up a couple of Caprice Accos, so I could make my mind up which weapon I preferred?  Still not sure which one I like best.  Again I've added gribbly details bits, in particular the fuel tanks that are signature item on Russian tanks, which for me adds a Russian feel to the models.

My observations on the plastics is that they're OK for what they are: cheap intro models.  The plastic is slightly shiny, and feels like it's some sort of engineering plastic i.e: designed to be slippery.  Some people have had difficulties gluing them with conventional plastic cement.  I use Butanone aka MEK, which welded the plastic together.  Also, I would have also preferred a lighter colour than the very dark grey because it would be easier to see the details when trimming the models off the sprue.

I'm also a bit fussy when it comes to mould parting lines and therefore spent a considerable time filing and fussing over the parts before assembly.  When I took these pictures, I could see that I hadn't paid enough attention to the finish and went over the models with a fibreglass pen to polish the surfaces up.  Also, in my opinion the sprue-gates on the mould did not take into consideration ease of cutting the models off the sprue e.g: on the Accos the sprue attaches to the nose of the legs, which means it is easy to lose detail when trimming the model unless great care is taken.

Still, way better than the Robotech models for ease of assembly.

As for differences between the injected moulded models and the resin originals, I only have the Ammon to compare.  This I can say is going to turn out differently, because the legs are from the Meggido, and do not feature the extra box-like structure on the upper leg that the Ammon has.  As such, it will sit lower and be less imposing.  I will make an Ammon up next and post pictures comparing the plastic to the resin and pewter model in due course.

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