Monday, January 31, 2011

Gallery: Surtr and the Sons of Muspel

Yes, "Surtr and the Sons of Muspel" would make a good name for a rock band.
I thought I would share pictures of one of my Hordes of the Things armies.  I might have posted these pics elsewhere, but I haven't put them up on this blog.  This army is based loosely on Norse mythology.  The official name is Surtr and the Sons of Muspel, but we usually just refer to it as the fire army:

Behemoth general (Surtr, King of the Fire Giants) @ 4AP    4
Behemoths x 2 (fire giants)  @ 4AP                                   8
Beasts x 3 (raging wildfires)  @ 2AP                                  6
Warband x 2 (Sons of Muspel)  @ 2AP                              4
Blade (Son of Muspel)  @ 2AP                                          2

Without further ado, Surtr and the Sons of Muspel:
Surtr (center) is a DDM Fire Titan, the fire giants are DDM Huge Fire Elementals.
The beasts are Large Fire Elementals from the Dungeons & Dragons Miniatures line.
The Sons of Muspel: one blade element and two warband elements.
The warbands are Angry Flame Spirits from the World of Warcraft minis game.
This blade is a Fire Archon from DDM.

My wife painted the bases for this army.  Didn't she do a good job?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coming soon ...

I had a productive day at the painting table, as you can see from the above picture.  In the pipeline I have a quick and dirty painting tutorial for how I paint my Entomalian ships.  I also have the finished star bombers, in a variety of paint schemes.

Keep watching the skies ...

Space fighter sources

Space fighters don't grow on trees.
The space fighter minatures for Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights are relatively large.  My size comparison with Stardate: 3000 and Star Frontiers ships generated a number of responses, in the comments section of that post and in this thread on The Miniatures Page.

Commenters suggested several other lines of fleet-scale fighters as possible diminuitive substitutes for SfW/GK minis, in addition to the Stardate: 3000 fighters (pictured above), and I thought it might be convenient to list all the suggestions in one place:
 Let me know if I've missed any sources for fleet-scale (10mm and smaller) fighter minis.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Small craft: Star Frontiers and Stardate: 3000

So I'm taking a closer look at the Star Frontiers ships I recently bought.  The Federation scout looks pretty cool, in a retro style reminiscent of War Rocket minis (although the latter came out last year, and the former came out in the early 1980s):
The tops and undersides of these ships are almost identical.
As you can see, these scouts are very small when compared to the SF frigates (or any other ship, for that matter):
Left: Fed frigate; right: Fed scout.
Not to harp on scale discrepancies again, but although the scouts look OK on their own, or next to larger ships, they just don't mesh well with the Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights fighters--or rather, they are so close in size that the Star Frontiers scouts blend in with the SfW fighters:
Left: Terran Comet; center: Fed scout; right: Ent Mosquito.
I also have these small craft from the Stardate: 3000 range of miniatures, referred to as pursuit ships.  Once again, they look all right on their own, and they're supposed to be in the same scale as the larger vessels in this line of minis:
Left: assault ship; right: interceptor.
However, the Stardate ships also close in size to SfW fighters:
From left to right: Comet, assault ship, interceptor, Mosquito
Why does this matter?  At present, it doesn't.  But in the future, I may want to expand the game to include rules for small shuttles or transports that are larger than a fighter, but smaller than the typical warship on the board.  The SF scouts and Sd:3K pursuit ships would fill this role nicely.

The problem comes if I have them on the table at the same time as I have stands of fighters--it might create a mixup, with players confusing a transport for a fighter, or vice versa:
That's the Federation scout in the middle.
The first solution is the same one I came up with before: don't worry, be happy.  Another solution: use smaller fighter minis.  Stardate: 3000 also has sprues of fighters.  As you can see, they're a lot smaller than the SfW/GK miniatures:
Stardate: 3000 fighters still on their sprue at top.
Of course, they're fairly expensive.  And Battlefleet Gothic fighters, although the right size, are also just as costly.  Not to mention neither line of fighters is compatible style-wise with the ships of the Five Powers.  Since I don't have any looming games in need of transports, it's a moot point right now.  But it's something to think about (or obsess over) in the future.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Treasure of the Ancients

Whenever I get a chance, I like going to Half-Price Books and checking out the games section.  There's usually a few role-playing books and supplements in that part of the store, and I occasionally find a treasure worth picking up.  I'm not a collector in the strict sense of the term, but I do like acquiring gaming materials I never had a chance to own in my youth.

So when I saw this box on the very top shelf, I knew I'd regret it if I didn't snag the item right then and there:
That white blotch is a reflection from the camera flash, not part of the box art.
That's right, it's a first-edition Gamma World boxed set.  It was missing the dice (I already have dice) and the map (which wasn't that great to begin with), but the $17.48 price tag made the game seem like a bargain.  I did get the second edition when it came out, but even then it seemed a little kiddified compared to what I had known about the original rules.  So I was mainly interested in the first edition book, and its approach to the game.  Like I said, I'm not really a collector. 
I've thumbed through it, and first-edition GW has a lot of interesting rules.  I'll have to do an in-depth post once I've had time to look it over.

Oh, and the best part: The particular store I was in had just moved to a new location, and everything was for sale at a 50 percent discount--on top of the usual half off.  So I paid nine bucks and change for a first edition Gamma World rulebook and box.  Definitely a fruitful treasure hunt!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Texas and the OSR

Yes, this is an actual Texas highway sign.
Although this has turned out to be mainly a wargaming blog, I also play roleplaying games.  The granddaddy of them all, of course, is Dungeons & Dragons.  Although now in its fourth edition with dozens of books and supplements, earlier editions of D&D still retain their popularity.  And now, thanks to the Internet and the Open Gaming License, there has been a resurgence of interest in these Older Sets of Rules.

(Sorry, I can't remember the name of this movement at present.  Maybe it will come to me in a minute or two).

Various approaches to intellectual property have allowed authors to create new games with familiar mechanics, duplicating out-of-print versions of the rules (retroclones).  This movement has lead to more gamers, including me, picking up where they left years ago and going Out Slaying Reptiles. 

(There's even some sort of acronym--three letters, I think.)
Locally, several gamers/bloggers have taken an interest in Our Stuff Revisited, and I've had opportunities to game with a couple of them:  I'm a regular in the San Antonio exploits the Hill Cantons campaign, run by the author of that eponymous blog.  I also successfully ventured into--and back out of--Skull Mountain, run by the creator of The Contemptible Cube of Quazar.  One of these days I hope to earn Gold & Glory at the table of the Troll and Flame proprietor.  There's even a Texas gaming convention dedicated to On-Site Retrogaming, North Texas RPG Con

(I remember now: TSR!  Wait, that was the name of the company...)

Some say this trend of playing Old Systems Re-examined is some sort of renaissance, or a revival--a return to the roots of role-playing, as opposed to all the new-school gaming out there.  Whatever it is, it seems to have picked up a lot of momentum around the 'Net.  I'm curious about local interest: Who else here in the Lone Star State is into this whole Other Sort of Recreation?  Let us know in the comments.

(Old-School Renaissance?  Nah.  Can't be.)

By the way, if you're curious about where that road sign came from, this picture will give Texans another hint:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hordes of the Things battle report

In addition to playing Song of Blades and Heroes last Tuesday, I also got in a game of Hordes of the Things, using what has to be my favorite army, my skeletons (repurposed 20-year-old Warhammer minis).  My opponent once again was da Baron, who brought out his Scorpions of Dirz (Confrontation prepaints).  Again: no camera; used phone; crappy pictures; apologies:
I won the roll, so da Baron was the defender and got to set up the terrain.  Since his army had four warbands, four shooters, and a beasts element (in addition to a behemoth and a hero general), he decided to put lots of bad going (woods) on the table to make things hard for my spears and artillery. (Y'know, now that I think about it, and looking at these pictures, I think he actually had 26 army points worth of elements on the board instead of the standard 24 AP.):
My opponent naturally had some great PIP rolls the first few turns, and his beasts, shooters, and warbands went through the forest like it wasn't even there, eventually chewing up my right flank and destroying two elements of shooters.  My lurker, however (that's him in the top left of the photo), did manage to destroy one of the enemy's elements in my first bound--and more importantly, was able to exert a zone of control against the behemoth and later the hero general, preventing them from moving away from that element (a technique known as Barkering, after one of the rules' authors):
Since my magician general was in danger from enemies in the woods, I decided to get him out of there--and into range of the enemy hero general.  Before the spellcaster could attempt to shrivel the hero's testicles (my favorite spell in HotT), he had to fight off attacks from the front and side--which he did, destroying the warband to his front and recoiling the element on his flank:
The spell didn't work, so I decided to risk my general in close combat with the opposing leader.  This was risky--heroes and magicians get along like Republicans and Democrats: when they go toe-to-toe, only one of them will end up walking away.  However, I just couldn't play it safe, so I moved forward and risked the game on a single die roll.  The result was not what I expected:
To sum it up: a nice (and rare) win for me, and a frustrating loss for da Baron.  Still, I think he has the better win-loss record overall.  It was a good time, and a nice way to finish a rare evening of gaming.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Because I don't have enough stuff to paint

I recently acquired some more miniatures on ebay to add to my collection of Star Frontiers ships.  I lucked out and snagged a complete box of Federation ships (battleship, destroyer, frigate, freighter, and two assault scouts) and three blister packs of Fed scouts and frigates (with two of each type):
Most of these ships will join my other civilian transports.  I'm not sure what to do with the assault scouts; they're not much bigger than a Starfleet Wars/Galactic Knights fighter, and they're too conventional to fly alongside my more exotic starships.  The assault scouts might fit in well with some of my Stardate: 3000 attack craft that are similar in size; I'll have to post a comparison photo soon.

Also, I found this interesting: The backs of the blister packaging are printed with "Adventure Squares," something that looks like deck plans of a starship for use with miniature figures or counters:
(Sidenote: I remember playing the Star Frontiers roleplaying game and remarking to my friends that I wished D&D had the same level of tactical combat.  My friend replied that it did--but we just ignored those rules when we played.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New game: Song of Blades and Heroes

For the first time in a long time, I made it to the Lone Star Historical Miniatures Tuesday night gathering at Dragon's Lair-San Antonio.  It was well worth the trip--I was able to get in a game of Hordes of the Things (which I will discuss in a later post), and I also got to play a game I recently acquired and have been waiting to try out: Song of Blades and Heroes, by Ganesha Games.

SBH is a quick-play fantasy skirmish wargame.  Fast is good when you don't have as much free time as you used to, and the skirmish means you don't need that many figures, which is good when you don't have as much cash as you used to.  The rulebook is inexpensive and available online along with several official expansions.  There's also a Yahoo group  as well as plenty of fan supplements.  Best of all, like HotT, the rules work with pretty much any figure, so I was able to draft some Heroscape minis for this battle (of which I have a ton), and I didn't even have to rebase them.  My apologies for the poor quality of the pictures below; once again I forgot my camera and had to shoot photos with my phone:

My robot warband.  That's right, robots in a fantasy wargame.
My opponent, da Baron Aaron, is starting up a SBH campaign, and he offered to show me the ropes.  His warband consisted of recycled World of Warcraft miniatures, some of which he had repainted.
The leader of the warband scans for the approaching enemies.
 The scenario we played, Treasure Hunt, resulted in my warband finding the marker with the hidden treasure just inches from my own board edge.  I thought the game was pretty much over by then, since I believed I would be able to scoop up the maguffin and haul ass off my edge of the board for victory.  The dice had other plans--failed activation rolls on my part and smart playing on my opponent's part got his warband over to my edge of the playing field pretty quickly.  And since my robots apparently have the shooting skills of Imperial Stormtroopers, it wasn't long before we were in hand-to-hand combat.
The enemy, who made a lot of activation rolls, approaches.
Lucky for me, my robots proved tough when things got up close and personal.  The organics lost some close combat rolls and got knocked down (it's either this or get knocked back a base width when you lose but your opponent's roll is less than double your roll).  Once knocked prone, the life forms were easy pickings hand-to-hand or with a quick shot from afar.  I destroyed three out of his five figures this way (the three he had painted), causing one more to flee, leaving the leader by himself.
Ashes to ashes, all fall down!
It was a fun game, and the activation roll mechanics make for interesting turns--you could miss your rolls and not get to move anyone, or you could make all your rolls and let everyone do pretty much anything, or something in between.  Also, warbands take about five minutes to create with an online calculator, so I will be coming back to this game again and again.  After all, I have plenty of Heroscape figures ready for action.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OGRE/GEV minis part 3: North American Combine

After miniatures for the OGRE and for the Paneuropean Union came out, Ral Partha produced models based on the other faction in the game, the North American Combine.  The vehicles are all the equivalent of the other side's units (although the NAC doesn't have its own missile crawler).  With the exception of the superheavy, I find these designs more aesthetically pleasing than most of the PE sculpts (and I also have them detailed a little bit better).  Without further comment, some of my NAC minis:
NAC command post

NAC GEV personnel carrier

NAC Ground Effect Vehicles

NAC howitzer

NAC heavy tanks

NAC infantry in three-squad units

NAC missile tanks

NAC mobile howitzer

NAC superheavy tank
I have additional units, such as the hovertruck and the light artillery drone, that aren't pictured because I don't have them painted.  They can be found in the OGRE Miniatures rulebook, which is available in PDF format.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

OGRE/GEV minis part 2: Paneuropean Union

Once you have some giant robotic tanks for your OGRE/GEV game, you need some human forces to oppose them.  The first miniatures released for the game were modeled after the designs on the cardboard counters for the paper version, which depicted the vehicles of the Paneuropean Union. 

The most important unit on the board doesn't do anything: the command post is there as a target; if the OGRE gets within firing range, the game is over.  Even if the OGRE doesn't have any weapons left, it can still run over the CP to end the game.  Here's what all the fuss is about:

Paneuropean command post, based on the original game art.
The initial game had just four types of conventional units to face the implacable OGRE: stalwart heavy tanks, far-reaching missile tanks, swift ground effect vehicles (GEVs), immobile howitzers, and the poor bloody infantry.  Now-defunct Martian Metals originally came out with the sculpts, and Ral Partha later took over the line, ultimately followed by Steve Jackson Games.

Heavy tank; lack of detailing makes this the Martian Metals version.


Missle tanks--the one on the right is the older sculpt.
PE infantry, in three-squad units.
Expansions of the game, including GEV and Shockwave, gave players new units to work with.  Light tanks and light GEVs, superheavy tanks, GEV personnel carriers, and mobile howitzers all added new strategies to the game.
GEV personnel carrier
Light GEVs
Light tanks
Superheavy tank

Mobile howitzer
Shockwave also produced one of the coolest--and now, rarest miniatures of the line: the PE missile crawler.  Although all the other models are still in production, I understand the master for this design was lost, meaning you won't be seeing any new crawlers available.  Take a look:
The missile crawler comes in three parts: front, back w/missile bed, & cruise missile.
These designs are all pretty dated (or retro, if you prefer).  For a look at a more modern execution of these concepts, you'll have to read my post on the North American Combine minis ....