Thursday 30 August 2012

Pan European Reinforcements

Well for some this next statement will come as no surprise. I actually stripped off all the paint  on both my Pan Euro 7 DBLE and Yellow Peril Combine miniatures. Why I hear you ask (metaphorically that is as I can't actually hear you over the internet)? Well, for three reasons.

First, my understanding of modern camo design and application is much greater than when I first painted the original schemes for both of these units. I now know that current military practice is to use a camo scheme whose design is applied consistently on each unit; so while a GEV might have a different arrangement to a tank, all the GEVs would have the same scheme, and all the tanks would have their own scheme, on each applied identically.

When I originally painted up these units I was working from knowledge based on WW2 practice, where the Germans in particular, while specifying the colours, left the application to the crews and their commanders. Camoflage has moved on a long way since WW2, and I wanted my forces to reflect modern practice, as I'm not going for a BattleTech retro-future look.

The second reason was that the Yellow Peril scheme looked tired to me, hence my updating the look on the OGREs as I showed with a work-in-progress picture a few posts back. The third reason is that since I will be demostrating OGRE at DragonMeet for the SJG as a  MiB, I kind of thought that my Combine unit should use official Combine miniatures?

My plan is to re-task the old Yellow Peril miniatures to represent a Nihon Empire unit, or some other force, which has no official miniatures, though I understand that Nihon OGREs are planned as a future release from SJG.
And this is why there have been no updates on my OGREs, as this lot has been on my workbench for the last few days, and it just takes time to paint the camo scheme, and in this case add magnets to all the turreted, or articulated vehicles I was working on.

Wednesday 29 August 2012

Aliens: A Lesson in Futility

Everybody, I know, loves the film Aliens, if they don't then they are either not Geeks, and pretty much don't count, or they are nerding out on some gonk thing that upsets them in the movie. However, everybody who loves the film can also sit down and point out the obvious problems ranging from a lack  of genre savvy characters, idiot balls in both the overall plot and character actions.

The first one that springs to mind as a wargamer is why oh why do you only send a section of troops to a planet when clearly the ship will carry a platoon or more? Some would argue that it is best explained by those ordering the mission wanting it to fail; in particular Weyland-Yutani.

Well yes maybe, but I'm not a great subscriber of conspiracy theories in general. Yes, I find them amusing, but real life plots are usually much more explainable through stupidity from a  lack of foresight, or planning.

Here is how I see the whole section deployed to accompany Burke & Ripley to LV-426.

Burke: sells a line to the company that their could be the chance to recover an alien that might be hostile and therefore useful to the bio-weapons division.

Weyland-Yutani board think this is a waste of time as all previous aliens have turned out to be mindless animals, but the records say their are aliens out there with technology, but we haven't found them yet. So they have a punt on Burke.

The United States Colonial Marines is undergoing a periodical review of its budget. Yes they have a ship, yes grabbing an alien would be good, but yadda-yadda it will just be another bug hunt. Command pushes an order down the chain of command.

Captain whoever has a new Lieutenant he needs to break in to replace the one lost on the last mission when he fell down a hole and got eaten by some indigenous lifeforms. A platoon is available, except that one third are out on R&R, training etc, and the other third exist only on paper. No problem, it's only a bug hunt, and by good fortune the two heavy weapons team gunners are available, and they have a pretty good senior Sargent to nurse the green Lieutenant.

Okay deploy one third of the platoon with heavy weapons to make up the weight of firepower and we are good to go. What could possibly go wrong?

And that is how I think the Sulacco ends up in orbit around LV-426 with the people it did.

PS: I would love to have this kit, but not at the price I saw it on eBay.

Tuesday 28 August 2012

Traveller: Merchant Crew

Above, basic crew, a mix of the old Citadel Traveller and Laser Burn figures. Below, Armed crew for when the going gets rough, which it often did. I remember running a FASA scenario that pitted a crew against hive like aliens that came out of a downed starship fleeing from a dying world that had been unfortunately infested.

Very Aliens...

We would also use these boarding action games using either Snapshot, or the lovely named Ashanti High Lightening board games that allowed one to rove around the insides of starships shooting up things, lowering property values, and generally chew gum and having fun!

Robots, droids, whatever you call them they spell out that this game is SF.  These were all for spaceship, or spaceport use, hence the uniform colour.  God, I miss playing games of Traveller.

Sunday 19 August 2012

Third Birthday Anniversary

Hard to believe that three years have gone by since I first started posting things on this blog of mine. I'm still of two minds whether or not wargaming is a goddamn hobby (WGIAGH) versus wargaming is away of life (WGIAWOL) question?

Recently I've been writing about BattleTech canon in two parts, here and here. Both were presented as way of life topics, because after-all life is too short to be really arguing the merits of canon versus apocrypha unless one's hobby is currently become one's way of life? In the past I was actively pursuing a career in the wargame industry, having written for Games Master International and FASA Corporation. Life decided to bless with me with other challenges, but now I found myself in a position where I may be able to work on the periphery of the wargame industry, which rather excites me if truth be told.

After all this is a hobby about toy soldiers and pushing bits of cardboard over a map. I like the toy soldier aspect as you can all probably guess by now. Over the last three years I have shown off my Marik Marauders, first here, and then here. These will ultimately be the OPFOR  to my players House Steiner unit here, and here. Hard to take such stuff too seriously, giant stompy robots, but in my experience what I see is players becoming seriously immersed in the worlds that they play in, and my Operation Sandbox Mummerset campaign though moving slowly, does move forward.

So, if it's all about the toy soldiers for someone who plays wargames, then what makes them become so attached to particular periods, scales and even level of actions? Is it just the enjoyment that comes from playing the game, or is it liking the flavour of the rules, or is it something else?

Or perhaps this is just a role-player thing? On balance I think not. Besides BattleTech has its own trope, and how cool is that?

Games, I would argue, engage the imagination of the player, and that at some level or another we all move between WGIAGH and WGIAWOL. Then, if you agree, it is just a matter of degree.

I have also written about the other games that satisfy other parts of my imagination. Like VietNam, and where would I be without rivers and trees when playing games of Charlie Don't Surf? Or even games set in places like Mogadishu using AK47 Republic rules where one needs war torn towns like my very own Newten and again here. And when I'm not surfing I'm taking a walk Through the Mud & the Blood of WW1 based actions, which is not a period that people first think of as being an innovative period, but it was. Not just in the use of aircraft, and the development of the tank, but also the creation of modern day infantry platoon tactics too.

Of course I mustn't forget my first love, Steve Jackson Games OGRE/GEV, the first SF wargame I ever bought from the long defunct Just Games branch at Piccadilly. Since that fateful day I have bought more miniatures than you can shake a big stick at to play games with, and I've also made my own homebrew OGREs as well. Of all the things that I have gotten from my hobby, the best by far are the happy memories of playing fun games with my friends. I thank you all.

Finally, you may have also noticed that over the last week, or so, I've completely revamped the tags for all the entries. Why, because while they were quite descriptive, they were not allowing me to search the site in a useful way, and I want readers, new & old, to be able to find things of interest. After all I want reading this blog to part of the fun you have from being in this great hobby of ours.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Territory: An OGREs Congenial Report


I am a Mark three cybertank, or more correctly I'm currently embodied within the armoured hull of a Mark three cybertank, generally called an OGRE, but I prefer to be called Ashley. I'm a cybertank what more can I say?

Actually, Ashley means Ash tree of the meadow and alludes to Yggdrasil, the World Tree from Norse mythology. According to legend, Yggdrasil grew on an island, which was surrounded by the ocean. In the ocean depths lay the World Serpent Jörmungandr. Yggdrasil's trunk reached up to the heavens, where the eagle flies, and its branches spread out over all the countries on Earth. Yggdrasil's roots reached down into the underworld where Jörmungandr gnawed at the roots. A squirrel called Ratatosk, which means sharp tooth, ran up and down the tree carrying messages from the serpent gnawing at the roots to the eagle in the canopy, and back. The roots of the word Yggdrasil can also mean terror.

I only say this so that you will know what you are facing. It's a kindness to let you know what you face, and I always tell you what I will do next. Why, because I want to see and learn about those that try to destroy that which cannot be destroyed? Yes, this chassis may be reduced, but I carry on to be downloaded yet again. It is the great game I'm playing.

I download this time into a Mark three that is running the Dancer defence strategy. I pause and decide to delete the sub-routine; it is not my way, not Ashley's way. Too late I am defeated, but I learn, and reappear this time facing the defenders of yet another lone command post set in a wasteland of nuclear fire.

I pause to consider, and then go right, before turning left. The enemy approaches. I tell them I will destroy the GEVs with missiles, fire my main battery on what is left disabled, and my secondary batteries at those nearest to me. Some of the enemy are destroyed, some disabled, and some survive. No matter, I move forward, and then the fire of the first howitzer hits me, and my main battery is rendered inoperative. I still have my secondaries.

I advance through the oncoming fire of the defenders, crushing the enemy armour as I do. Infantry swarm beneath my welcoming branches and die as I fire my anti-personnel batteries. I do not gloat, I do not glow in the glory of war, instead I ponder the chances of the mission succeeding as I my rate of progress slows? The mission is everything; the cost is irrelevant to me, as I will rise again. I grind to halt before the reaching the command post unable to reach out and touch the goal. I am gone…

But then I become aware again. Another command post beckons me, and Dancer returns, but how? I then realise that the Dancer is a different me, another AI, and that we are just doing our job. Conflicts come and pass, first me then Dancer. Finally, I see a pattern. I advance right and then weave left as the enemy GEVs charge towards my left flank too fast, too furious and then I am upon them. Two missiles away and two GEVs destroyed, one falls under my main battery, and the survivor falls to all four of my secondary batteries firing at it.

I monitor the command post frequencies. I broadcast that I am coming, and that I will fire my weapons at all those that come in range. I monitor the silence as the enemy pauses to regroup and reform before advancing again. They are disorganised and become easy targets for my guns. Infantry form forlorn groups and throw themselves at my treads. I grind on. Ever onward, ever forward in my mission. Extra units have joined this fray, but the command post falls under the spell of my guns, and I depart this field to return to my staging area and await my next mission.

I am Ashley a cybertank, this nuclear wasteland is my territory, and I am the terror tree of the world.

Note: This was written in a moment of me channeling my inner OGRE, and I did think about it being my first MiB report? Sense returned though. I hope you enjoy this piece of fiction for what it is?

Addendum: Got a shout out from SJG for this, see here.

Traveller: Zhodani

Yes these are those Zhodani figures from the long defunct Martian Metals range. I got these on a trip to Toronto back in 1983, and I guess I painted them sometime around 1986, or so. I can't remember. As you can see there were five poses.

I bought all that the shop had, and was able to make up this platoon, which is one figure short as one of the commander miniatures has a broken arm awaiting the time I get around to fixing it.

Anyway, I'm posting these so that Thomas Nissvik can show his girlfriend some figures painted in pink.

Having spent today writing and doing these photographs for these posts I have been happily reminiscing about he good old day when I use to play in RPG campaigns run by my friend Kevin (who died a few years back after having a heart attack, I miss him), along with his then partner Rhona, with Patricia and Bill of the Warlord Games shop, not to forget to mention Dave Harwood, Saul and the others I played with too.

Monday 13 August 2012

Congenial 2012: Cambridge


Went to Cambridge this weekend to attend Congenial a small games convention that had Phil & Kaja Foglio as guests of honour. I hadn't been planning on attending at all, if truth be told. What happened was that I was browsing the SJG forums and saw a we want MiBs for OGRE/GEV post. So I emailed Frank Carver the European MiB and asked if this was a current need, to be told that it was? After a brief, and what was hopefully witty email to introduce myself, I was asked if I could make it to Congenial to meet people and see if my face fit etc.?

My partner is not a gamer as such, but when I mentioned that the Foglio's were the guest of honour that made our attendance inevitable. Fortunately, we have some good friends in Cambridge, so we had the added pleasure of staying with Kate & Malcolm, getting to hang out with them.

Turned up on Saturday and introduced myself to Daniel, in the OGRE t-shirt, the new line developer for OGRE, and play a bunch of games as the OGRE. Had a whale of a time. I had forgotten how much fun it is to play. The guy on the left in the photo is Chris, who won the tourney prize.

The OGRE advances as Chris moves his forces into contact. He was a very skillful player and his victory was well deserved.

Saturday night I sold a few excess games at the auction, and Sunday was a rinse and repeat cycle of playing more games of OGRE. I rather liked introducing myself as Ashley your OGRE for today.

Monday 6 August 2012

Earth Invades Mars

A deniable Black Ops funded invasion of Mars landed successfully today, under the plausible deniable cover of scientific research. The so called Curiosity rover is a one ton cybertank armed with state-of-the-art laser beam designed to teach the Martian microbes the harsh lesson that invading Earth is to no avail.

PS: Tongue in cheek, but there was a palpable sense of relief in the the Paint it Pink household today when we read the news. My partner is on the periphery of this from working for the Imperial College Department of Physics. So yippee, time to break open the Champagne.

Sunday 5 August 2012

The OGRE Comes Around

"And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder...

And I looked, and behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and hell followed with him."

Just to show what I did yesterday afternoon. As you can see if you check here, I've revised the camo scheme on my Mk5 OGRE, and I'm in the process of updating the partially completed work I had done on the three Mk3s too.

I had become slightly disenchanted with the old scheme as it didn't quite work for me.This slightly revised reworking keeps the theme, but I feel makes the models pop more, or will when they are done. Still a fair ways to go at this point.

Saturday 4 August 2012

21 years to 21st Century

To say it has been a while since I painted any OGRE game miniatures would be like saying that dinosaurs ruled the Earth a long time ago. I've been playing OGRE/GEV since the first edition of the bagged micro game. Back in the early eighties I acquired a Grenadier Models Mark 5, which is still my pride and joy, but I've painted nothing for the game for 10 years. You have seen those here. With the impending release of the Kickstarter edition of Ogre I was moved to dust off a tray of miniatures and start working on them, as you can see above.

And here is them all painted green ready for the camo scheme.

I had a light bulb moment when I realised that I should just re-label my Pan European forces as the 7th Demi Brigade Légion Etrangère, rather than keep calling all my North American Combine vehicles that, especially as I have a whole load of Combine OGREs also on the bench being painted.

Why the title for this piece you may ask yourselves?

Quite simple really. I bought all these miniatures when they were first released back by Ral-Partha back in 1992, which means that they have been maturing for 21 years.

Freedom Army of Mummerset Infantry

Back last year I wrote a post on infantry with no pictures, just saying pictures later. A year has passed and now there are pictures. First is some Power Armour troops using MechWarrior Dark Age miniatures. These are rather nice models, and what I found interesting was that there were at least two sculpt made, or two separate moulds, as there are some slight variations between figures.

And the second platoon that I finished recently are the motorised, à la BattleTech definition of same, infantry. These are quad bikes with what looks like some sort of rotary machine gun mounted on it. Too big to mount in pairs, hence individual basing.

Finally, the FAM company. I still need to paint up a command (two figure) base for the foot infantry (serves no actual command function, it's just useful to be able to remove figures in different combinations during the game).

Thursday 2 August 2012

House Steiner Infantry

Previously, I gave an update on the things on my wargame bench awaiting further work to finish, for definitions of finish that include expanding army's as needed, and wrote about basing them here.

So above and below are some of the resulting figures from my post here, now based and painted.

I sorted the MechWarrior Dark Age figures  by weapon types, and then made mixes to give each platoon variety and add flavour to the game. These are flamethrower figures being used to represent a combat engineer platoon. All I have to do now is make some flame markers like Sidney did.

By having a couple of bases with one figure, and a base with two figures, it's really easy to add and remove casualties to keep track of the platoon's strength.

And here are four platoons acting as a Company. I've still got to paint up two more platoons; one to replace the combat engineers, and the other to add a motorised scout platoon to the TO&E of the player's force.