Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to one and all.

Despite having written the Gate Walker trilogy, researched everything like crazy, I found myself doing more research.


Because I skimmed over details when writing the novels because they slowed down the story. Though it has to be said my Beta reader, Brian, did ask about how the Army combat armor differed from the Marines version?

Now Brian, and everyone else who wanted to know will have this information.

Here's a brief snippet to entertain over the Christmas holiday period.

NAC Army Combat Armor

CAS-3-Mod 1    Combat Armor System Dash (Mark) 3 Dash Model 1 is the Army's latest upgrade to their drive suit, which is supplied to Special Forces troops. It's slightly heavier than a CASE-2X because All Apes come fitted with mission packs that allow them to be outfitted with a large array of heavy weapon systems according the mission profile. See FM50-CAS-Mod and TO-2050-14-01-1U for further details.

CAS-3-Mod 2    Is the command variant of the Ape featuring an enhanced C4ISR pack: Communications; Computers; Intelligence; Surveillance; and Reconnaissance array of comms gear.

CAS-2-Mod 1    Is a scout combat armor suit for reconnaissance.

CAS-1-Mod 2    The first generation of Army combat armor suits fielded by the NAC. Still assigned to second line National Guard units. An engineer support variant will appear in future novels.


All the Army CAS-Mod variants have modular electronic packs that allows the combat armor to be optimized for specific mission tasks and carry one extra weapon from the following list: [snip]

NAC Marine Corps Combat Armor

CASE-2X    The Marine Corps Combat Armor System Environment Dash (Mark) 2 Extreme is driven by its operator, unlike its lighter counterpart MARPACE suit that is worn. It can operate up to three days before needing to be refueled. See FM51-CASES and TO-2051-16-02-1U for further details. Command variant  has enhanced C4 suite.

CASE-2XC    Command variant that again comes with an enhanced C4ISR: Communications; Computers; Intelligence; Surveillance; and Reconnaissance array of comms gear.


The Marine Mod-1 backpack integrates with combat armors Dispersed Operation and Guidance System, creating a parallel processing network of operating nodes that allows the operator to assign the AI/expert system interface the task priority of the systems. The Mod-1 pack allows a Dog to carry one extra weapon, the Mod-2 backpack carries two extra weapons from the following list: [snip]

Monday 21 December 2020

Calling Them Done


Yep, at last, I've finished them. Painted, glossed, decals, and matt varnish all done. Phew!

The original two darker green mechs were my first attempt to up my game, but hopefully you can see that these two look even better than the first two I finished back in July. 

I think I've managed to produce a wider contrast range with better highlights.

I'll do some glamour portraits after I've flocked the bases, but they're done for now.

I may do another post soon, but given the time of year, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Painter's Painting Progress

I've made progress learning new techniques for painting my miniatures.

I started with four of these bad boys, I have two that are nearly finished; I buggered up the paint on one, and the other I want to rebuild with the torso magnetized too. Sheesh. People might start suspecting I'm a bit of a perfectionist, or something.

Okay, my memory is not perfect, but the time taken to try different techniques, paints, and the setbacks along with the all the learning has definitely been a thing. I should've kept a log of all the hours I spent, but painting is a hobby, not a billable job.

Besides, things have been stressful enough without making my life harder.

Anyway, totally obsessed with learning new tricks to up my painting, and these are going to look awesome with decals and matt varnish to finish them.

However now I'm in a quandary over whether or not to take my original two mechs, and add magnets to allow their torsos to twist too? It would increase their poseability, but may (highly likely) require me to repaint them.

Decisions, decisions.

Acquisitions of a Mecha Kind

I was able to snag an an old RAFM DP9 Azure Devils set off eBay a little while back. It comes with one set of running legs for a Jager, which I really wanted.

Amongst all the spare parts was the command head variant casting, which I already had, but another is always useful.

Along with a sheet of instructions etc. Eureka, or something like that. 

I have set these aside for later, because I'm still neck deep in the ongoing painting odyssey that is the bad boys on my work bench, which are taking me longer to paint than any other model I can ever remember painting.

Friday 20 November 2020

Big Little Wars: Post 2 - Update on Gate Walker Battles

Three new Combat Armor Suits representing the mecha in my universe.

Well, I threw my current draft, mostly notes, together, and sent it to a friend who has shown interest in working with me on the project.

Working title is now Bad Dog; though that may change again.

I've received the first feedback, and I'm excited. It seems it isn't totally crazy of me to write another set of future combat rules featuring mecha. The emphasis being on plausible future warfare with mecha as a part of the battlescape.

So it looks like it's a go for  C4ISR mission (Communications; Computers; Intelligence; Surveillance; and Reconnaissance) with ECM and ECCM, and morale feeding into when the battlefield becomes an internet of connected things.

Sunday 15 November 2020

BattleTech Alternate Universe


I read a fun thread on Twitter a little while back asking what opinion would get your BT fan card revoked.

I wrote Kerensky's Exodus was dumb, dumber than a bag of hammers; and later added, The Republic of the Sphere was the best thing ever introduced into BT canon. Obviously, these are just throwaway comments, made in jest, but with elements that stand some further reflection.

It's hard now for those fans who weren't there back in 1984 to understand the appeal of the original 3025 setting.

What you have to remember is that the game was tapping into the whole Mad Max vibe that swept the West, click here for a wiki article. Not forgetting the timing of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome released in 1985.

So when FASA's BattleDroids arrived, the whole 'previous technology was 'made better in the past' resonated with me and countless other wargamers. Yes, it was obvious that this would have to change, because the Inner Sphere would have had to have been knee deep in Battlemechs to keep them on the battlefields of the future.

Hence my love for the William Keith Grayson Carylisle Gray Death stories, which is all about finding lost tech.

The recent successful KickStarter, with the new plastic mechs from Catalyst have revived people's interest in BattleTech. I haven't played a game in quite a long while, but have fond memories of fun times. Okay, I'm totally obsessed with stompy robots!

However, later on, I got into a bit of a tiff with a guy on FaceBook about combined arms games, which was resolved after some comments.

My assertion remains that there's a sweet spot for playing games of classic BattleTech, and furthermore hover tanks used aggressively can unbalance the game. I was told that using fusion powered hover tanks was cheesy. I kind of agree, but only because I think that cheesy is just shorthand for edge cases breaking the rules.

On further reflection, I think that BattleTech would be better focused on gladiatorial arena games, because the super crunchy game mechanics are already borderline rpg character focused. Furthermore, one could tinker with the time and groundscale for more in the cockpit verisimilitude. Yes, this would turn BattleTech into a Solaris game, but that's not a bad thing.

I think the original Solaris game was a road BattleTech should have taken. Obviously, opinions will differ. Then focus the desire for combined arms battles using Alpha Strike. But that's just my opinion.

But, here we are entering a revival of the classic game, and that I think all would agree is a good thing.

Friday 16 October 2020



I started painting my Buster and during the process I checked the fit of the arm with the rotary cannon and... you guessed, it now fouled with with the backpack engines. Doh!

So I pulled the backpack off the torso, and in the process of doing so chipped some of the paint off.

Hence the title, buggeration.

Engine cylinders blocking the arm from depressing.

Fixing this required remodeling, and so I'm back to square one; only to discover that the missile pack would no longer fit after repositioning the engine cylinders.

More gritting of teeth ensued.

I tried hanging the missile pack off the roll bar, but my first attempt broke, as the part was load bearing. So I thought things through and made a replacement that wouldn't break. 

A montage of the parts modification process.

And here we are, back at square one.

I know. There, there. How sad. Never mind.


Fingers crossed everything goes well from here on. The setbacks with trying new techniques has some bright spots, in that I've learnt a hell of a lot about painting glazes, and what I have to do to achieve a finish that resists wear and tear.

So now it's back to painting. Catch you all on the bounce.

Monday 12 October 2020

Acquisitions of a VOTOMS Kind

Arctic Gear 1/48th scale toys.

It is no secret that I like the anime show Armored Trooper VOTOMS. It has become my favorite source for mecha inspiration. So much so that I wrote three novels that feature mecha inspired by the franchise. I also own  a bunch of Takara 1/144th scale VOTOMS, a 1/35th model, and an enormous 1/12th toy Scopedog in my collection.

While I had a plan to play wargames with the 1/144th models, the availability of more models, especially the enemy Fattys proved a stumbling block.

That led me to discovering Dream Pod 9s Heavy Gear range, and I got a bunch of models from them, but the choices available for 12mm infantry doesn't allow for what I consider a satisfactory representation of the power armor suits.

Three partially assembled Scopedogs.

The Arctic Gear range are nice models, but generally very pricey. However, I've been lucky and managed to score a Reeman squad box set, at a bargain price. So now I can make a squad of four Scopedogs.

As you can see they're partially assembled, but there's a big pile of parts to be added to complete them.

That's a lot of parts.

By comparison the Burglary Dog variant I featured before that provides alternative variant parts for the legs, and needs more assembling to ready it for the tabletop.

Quite an array of alternative parts.

 And just for completeness, here's the above models extra parts.

The provision of details parts is wonderful.

When I'll get around to assembling these beauties is moot. Currently I'm deep into my RAFM conversions, which has turned into a sorry tale of missteps that have led to a shed ton of extra work. But I'll write about that more next time.

Until then, remain well, stay safe, and catch you all on the bounce.

Tuesday 22 September 2020

WIP: Reposing Finished

Left to right: standard CASE-2X Dog, CASE-2XC-Mod:2E Command Dog, and CAS-4CP Buster.

After the paint peeled off these models, stripping them back to bare metal effectively meant I'd taken a one step back towards completing this project. Its not as if I don't want to finish them unless they're perfect, though there's some truth in my wanting to make them look as good as possible.

Instead, it's more like I think it would be a shame to waste an opportunity to try and make the most of a bad outcome, as I didn't want to let all the work I had lost bring me down.

So I chose to see it as a second chance to do the best job I can with these classic RAFM miniatures.

The various shots that follow show where I cut the joints when rebuilding the models, using a combination of Kneadite (green stuff) and Milliput.

Green stuff is easier to sculpt when you want organic shapes, but Milliput is better for filing into shape when you want flat surfaces, and parts to be square. But on more than one occasion I mixed them both together, because green stuff can be annoyingly sticky to work with.

The work I carried out included re-sculpting the arm joints on the model on the left, and then rotating the left hand so it sits better with the main gun. 

I also reposed the legs of the other two models. In addition, I rebuilt the torso of the model on the right. I might, if I can figure a way of doing so, make a flexible ammo chute feed for it too.

Doing so would give me more flexibility when pose it for pictures, as now all the arms and the torsos on the models can be moved.

But, I'm pleased at how their stances turned out. I think they look more dynamic now, and it has motivated to get on with painting them – again!

Unfortunately, these shots don't show the work I've done texturing the bases sculpting in foot prints and track marks. The feedback from the first two models I finished  pointed out that the bases were a bit bare. 

I thought the critique was fair. The bases were a bit plain.

I'm not big on fancy bases, but given the amount of work I've put into these I thought I'd give it a go, and see what I could do to raise my game. After all, it can't hurt.

And finally, given this project turned into a labour of love, here's a reminder of what they looked like the first time round. I think I can safely say I've definitely taken them to another level.

As always, thank you all for following my blog. Catch you on the bounce.

Friday 11 September 2020

Big Little Wars: Post 1 - Gate Walker Battles

After a year that feels like living in the Bad Place, I've started to get some interest back in making models and playing games. I'm still sad to say that I have no mates to play Heavy Gear with, and therefore have little chance of teaching the casual person to play a game I don't fully know how to play.

Also, I'm still struggling still with a lot of self-doubt about my fiction writing. I've gone through a period of stagnation, and at the moment it would be stressful trying to jump back into writing full-time.

So getting back into the saddle too soon might trigger a relapse of my depressive episode.

But writing something would be good for me. So, I have decided that I might try writing a set of rules for the Gate Walker universe setting. If only because it will be easier to teach people to play a new game if I wrote rules.

I may be biased, or deluded, in holding that opinion, but I do have the previous experience of designing game rules from writing OHMU War Machine.

Given the amount of time between the last time I considering writing a set of rules for my setting, it's time to reassess my options. My previous thoughts on the rules centered around updating the command control rules, and revising the available units to reflect my Gate Walker universe.

However, I'm unconvinced that I still want a set of rules that can handle battalion and larger sized combat groups. Also I might need to consider the option of being able to play solo as well. But I do know I want to capture the feel of #RealRobo combat.

I know, I know, what does that even mean?

1. Capture the feeling of future warfare with power armor etc.

2. Detailed enough for squads with support elements to make combined arms platoons.

3. Command and control rules, so the player acts at the level of each squad commander.

The first goal is a bit like being General Haig at the start of WW1. It's like me having to face the challenge of learning how to fight a war where technology has moved the goal posts on what works and what doesn't.

Fortunately, I won't have to put real people through the grinder.

Second, what do I mean by squads?

I'm thinking two to five people or vehicles per unit. A platoon would be three to five squads, so a combined arms platoon would be between ten to 25 infantry or to six to ten vehicles.

Optional off table support will be available to represent assets available to the combined arms platoon like: satellites; artillery, air-support etc.

Finally, I want the command and control rules to be a bit like Chain-of-Command.

Players get dice to roll that generate the number of commands they can give a turn (thinking this could represent limitations from bandwidth, ECM and ECCM that battles generate). But also allow them to focus on what heroes can bring to the action.

That sounds like a reasonable set of goals, but whether I can write a set of rules that other people want to play remains unknown. And now I have to think of a name for them. Please feel free to make comments now, before I start writing.

I'm sure this blog that will make my friend Roger laugh, as he predicted I end up trying to write my own set of wargame rules.

Friday 4 September 2020