Monday, February 28, 2011

Entomolian battlecruisers

In addition to gaming over the weekend, I got some painting in as well.  Two Entomolian battlecruisers, recognition names Roach (left) and Scorpion.  I always enjoy painting these multicolored insect ships, and the larger vessels were an even bigger treat.  I'll post more detailed pics later in the week.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Civil War Saturday

I don't think I've ever mentioned historical wargames on this blog before, but I occasionally play the Civil War miniatures game Johnny Reb.  On Saturday, Joe hosted Grant, Biff, and myself in a refight of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Joe has a great gaming setup, with a large table at chest height, for ease of reaching units on the field.  He had it tricked out with roads, streams, forests, and buildings, and the hundreds of 15mm minis on regemental stands.

I showed up late and took command of the Rebel reinforcements coming to the aid of Biff against Grant and Joe playing the Yankees.  It was an enjoyable game where an infantry charge can go better than expected--or horribly wrong.

I had one remarkable shot during the battle, when my artillery battery fired at a Yank artillery emplacement.  I was rolling four dice, and I would take out an enemy gun for each six I rolled.  I toss the bones, and come up with a quartet of sixes, destroying every one of the damnyankees' field pieces.

Alas, the valiant Southern forces fell to the Northern aggressors, who took out a Reb general and more units than they lost.  Still, it was a good time, even for someone as historically impaired as I am.

Thanks to Joe for hosting the game (and his wife for feeding us).  Biff had to leave before the last turn, so the ultimate responsibility for the Confederate defeat falls on me.

Still, my generalship improves with every game, and I look forward to playing again.

UPDATE: Joe just sent an after action report with details of the battle and gave me the go-ahead to post it here.  Read on below:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Gallery: New acquisitions

When I made a recent purchase on ebay, I could tell from the seller's photos that the trio of spaceships were painted; I just couldn't tell how they were painted.  Imagine my pleasant surprise upon opening the package to discover this:

The three vessels bear a tiger-stripe paint job in the style of the Capellan Raiders, and the smaller two of them have fanged mouths reminiscent of the Flying Tigers.  I had originally planned to remove the paint jobs and redo these ships as transports or tugs.  My wife, however, insists I should keep the existing markings and bases, and I agree.  As you can see, they're already mounted:

Unfortunately, I have no idea what line these ships are from or who made them.  Maybe they're for the Battletech setting's space combat game, AeroTech?  UPDATE: Thanks to the expertise of the folks over at The Miniatures Page, the larger ship has been identified as a Betafortress gunboat or Nemesis gunboat for the space fighter combat game Silent DeathThe smaller ships have a similar style, but I still can't pinpoint which model they are.  UPDATE 2: The author who redesigned some of the SD ships says the smaller ships are Sapper minsweeper/assault fighters

The bases have "Ral Partha" and what looks like the number "81" or "87" on the underside:

Take a look at the remaining pictures, and if you have any idea what these ships might be, let me know in the comments:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adventuring Party for Hordes of the Things

When I posted my Against the Giants army lists for Hordes of the Things, I mentioned they needed an opposing army comprised of your standard Dungeons & Dragons adventuring party. 

One person on the HotT mailing list suggested the original characters from the original Lake Geneva campaign (Mordenkainen, Robilar, Tenser, et al.).  Another player suggested two heroes, a magician, shooters (elven archers) and blades (dwarven warriors), and someone else came up with magician, cleric, sneaker, shooters, knights, and warband.

Here's my own take on an adventuring party for Hordes of the Things, based on the high-level D&D characters that would take on the giants:

Lord & henchman              Hero General    4
Wizard & familiar            Magician        4
High Priest & acolytes       Cleric          3
Master Thief                 Lurker          1
Ranger Lord & bear           Warband         2
Lord's troops                Knights x 2     4
Summoned djinn or elemental  Flyer           2
High Priest's followers      Spears x 2      4
Of course, after the giants are vanquished, the party can begin its Descent into the Depths of the Earth ...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Basing spaceships

I've been asked how I base my spaceship miniatures.  It's a fairly simple process using wooden disks from a craft store, fender washers, regular wire nails and superglue:

First, I remove the backing from the disk and attach the washer.  Even though the disk has adhesive on it, I still apply super glue, because I've had the assembly come apart when I didn't glue it first.

I hold it together for several seconds, then I drive a nail through it from the bottom.  Note the use of a magazine to prevent holes in my kitchen table:

The finished product looks like this:

And here you have it with the mini attached:

Easy and cheap, which is how I like my miniatures gaming.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Another good day of gaming

Another great day for spaceship action, as I got in two lengthy games this afternoon.  Sting52jb from the Star Ranger message boards had contacted me about playing some games while he was in town, so we spent Friday and Saturday pushing around our models at Dragon's Lair.  We weren't able to play Colonial Battlefleet like we had planned because we didn't have the printouts we needed, so instead we tried another set of rules--Kill Radius, by yours truly.  It was fun, and I'll share more details at a later date.

We also got in a large game of Full Thrust, about 3200 points per side.  Of course my camera battery died, so I thought I was out of luck, until I remembered my phone can take pictures.  The photos aren't as good as with a regular camera, but I'm just happy I had something to get pics.  I had a blast playing FT, and I really dig the concept of damage threshold checks and rolling buckets o' dice.  Again, I'll post additional pics and a writeup in the near future. 

All in all, another good time down at the local game store--and a fitting subject for my 100th blog post!  Thanks for reading, everyone.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Good gaming

Today was a long but productive day, spaceship gaming-wise.  I got in two battles using different rulesets: one Galactic Knights match and then a quick intro game of Full Thrust, which I had never played before (quickie review: it was fun!).  And I even remembered my camera this time, so no crappy cell phone photos. 

I'm kind of tired right now, so I'm just posting one photo as a teaser.  Look for a full report in the next few days.  We're set to play some more starship battles tomorrow as well.  Next game on the menu: Colonial Battlefleet!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Storage and transport

I've got a big weekend of gaming planned (and hopefully I will remember to take my camera this time), so I thought I'd share some of my storage/transport boxes for my starship miniatures. 

My method is fairly straightforward: plastic hardware storage containers with some removable dividers with magnetic sheeting attached to the bottom.  All my ships are mounted on wooden disks glued to steel washers, so the magnets (sold in office supply stores as tape or as backing for business cards) keep the minis from sliding around when I'm moving, and they stack up nicely when I'm done.  I also have some bigger boxes for some of the larger ships, but the principle's the same.

So how do you transport your spaceships?  Do you store them in the same box you use to tote them around?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

That's no moon ...

... but it will be, once I get around to painting it.  I'm thinking the traditional grey and off-white of an airless, rocky, crater-pocked worldlet.

I found this styrofoam hemisphere for floral arrangements at a local craft store, but once I'm done with it, this will be a natural satellite orbiting the planet I made.  In addition to looking cool, this should make the tactical situation that much more interesting for my Galactic Knights games. 

I'm not an astronomer, but I think maybe such a moon could fit on the same table as its primary at the GK scale of 1,000 miles to the hex without coming within the Roche limit and breaking apart. 

So has anyone played a space game with more than a single celestial body on the playing surface?  Did the extra planetoids make the game more interesting, or just bog it down?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New MAATAC on the way?

Heard an interesting tidbit over on the Galactic Knights Yahoo! group:  Seems like GK publisher Monday Knight Productions has a new edition of the venerable sci-fi ground combat game MAATAC* in the works. 

In this message regarding MKP's schedule for this year's wargame convention Enfilade!, Monday Knight honcho William Thompson tells us one of the events he plans to run at the con is a beta version of Galactic Knights: MAATAC.  According to Will, this is going to be the
First showing (in public) of the new MAATAC ground combat rules that link ground forces into the Galactic Knight Universe (Giving you a reason to actually PUT cargo holds in your ships :-) )
As you know, MKP already sells the old MAATAC rules, along with 1:285 scale miniatures for all five powers for that universe (the same setting as Starfleet Wars).  However, the original version of the futuristic warfare rulebook isn't really compatible with the Galactic Knights starship combat game (or at least the two games' backgrounds aren't exactly the same).  It sounds like the new book is meant to go hand-in-hand with GK, and I can't wait to learn more about it.

*Multi-functional Armed & Armored Tactical Attack Computer, in case you were wondering.  Gotta love the retro-futuristic vibe you get from that acronym--shades of ENIAC and UNIVAC!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Gallery: Opponents' armies

For a slight change of pace, I present to you group portraits of some of the armies my opponents have fielded against me in Hordes of the Things

First up is Mark's Empire army, representing that political power from the world of Warhammer Fantasy.  Most of his line troops come from the old Battle Masters game, which was a joint project of Games Workshop and Milton-Bradley from the early '90s that came with a ton of plastic miniatures that are ideal for use in HotT:
I really like the magic circle for the base of this army's magician element.
We also have Johnny's Romans, the XIII Legion.  These are for the most part old historical figures Johnny had sitting around that he rebased for HotT.  He's added a few fantastic creatures (not shown) to make his army more fantastical, but he pretty much had enough figures for two, maybe three, 24-point commands.  Here's what he fielded in one game last fall:
The stand of wolves (upper right) are an element of beasts.
These armies illustrate how Hordes of the Things allows players to easily field an army with handy and/or cheap figures.  My thanks to Johnny and Mark for allowing me to take these photos, and for being such classy opponents!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On the workbench: Star Frontiers ships

I have some of my recently acquired Star Frontiers ships based and ready for primer--a destroyer, a frigate, a freighter, and two scouts:

The battleship's not ready yet; it had some lead rot and I want to clean it off before I mount it.  I also had some trouble with the destroyer at first--the engines had fallen off! 

I needed to fix it; however, Gorilla Glue alone wouldn't do the job, so I used rods (actually parts of a paper clip I separated using wire cutters) to help hold the engines in place:

Just two rods weren't enough, so I added a third.  Since this is the underside of the ship that goes permanently on a base, I'm not to worried about how it looks from below:

With this experience using glue and rods, I'm slowly gaining the courage to attempt to repair the Carnivoran battlecruiser I broke.  Maybe soon ...  after I base the other half-dozen frigates and scouts.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Scenario seeds

Here are a few ideas for starship clashes besides "each side sets up on opposite ends of the board and has at it."  Although I initially posted these ideas on the Galactic Knights Yahoo group, they're pretty much rules-independent:
ESCORT DUTY:  Military vessels must escort cargo ships the length of the map, preventing raiders from destroying/capturing the merchant craft before they can escape.  Of course, you'd need stat sheets for freighters and rules on called shots for disabling engines and/or jump drives.

SPACE ASSAULT:  Waves of attackers descend on a heavily fortified space station defended by hordes of fighters.  Can the star fortress hold out till reinforcements arrive?  For the space station, I envision a typical ship stat sheet--but with no engines or hyperdrive, allowing shields to cover the rear side.

ASTEROIDS:  A large fleet must root out a smaller force from an asteroid belt--but resources are precious, and any ship lost will have severe political repercussions (translate this as the large force loses lots of points for any casualties).  The playing field is occupied by dozens of planetoids.  The rocks all have the same drift, which occurs after ships' maneuver phase.  If you're in a hex when the asteroid drifts into it, you take damage and risk destruction.
There's also my planetary invasion extravaganza, and I've posted a few other setups as well.  So what are some additional scenario ideas for space battles? 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Against the Giants for Hordes of the Things

The main reason Hordes of the Things is my favorite fantasy miniatures game is that the rules for building an army allow for maximum creativity, limited only by the source material (and the fact that only half your points can go toward elements costing 3 AP or more). 

The rulebook lists armies from a variety of source material, including modern fiction, mythology, and silliness.  However, it didn't list anything from one of the most influential fantasy games of them all, Dungeons & Dragons.  Attempting to rectify that, I present my lists* (loosely) based on the Against the Giants series of modules:


Character(s)                          HotT element        pts
Hill Giant Chief                     Behemoth General      4
Stone Giant                          Behemoth                   4
Hill Giant Champion              Hero                           4
Hill Giants w/Clubs (2/base)  Warband x 2               4
Hill Giants w/Boulders          Shooters x 2               4
Dire Wolves                         Beasts                        2
Bugbears                             Hordes x 2                  2


Frost Giant Jarl                     Behemoth General      4
Cloud Giant                          Behemoth                   4
White Dragons                      Flyers x 2                   4
Frost Giant w/Axe (2/base)   Blades x 4                  8
Yeti                                      Warband                    2
Ice Toads                             Beasts                        2


Fire Giant King                      Behemoth General      4
Chimera                                 Dragon                      4
Drow Cleric                           Magician                    4
Fire Giant w/Sword (1/base)  Blades x 4                  8
Ettin (1/base)                         Warband                    2
Drow                                     Hordes x 2                 2

(photos depict Heroscape figures in my collection)

Of course, these giants need a party of adventurers to take them on, preferably one army right after the other, the way God and Gary Gygax meant it to be played.  I have some ideas for a HotT army based on a group of D&D characters, but I'd like to hear some ideas from readers as well.  So, what's your army list for a dungeon adventuring party?

*These lists are speculative only, as I have not had the time or money to build any of these armies yet.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Work in Progress: Scratchbuilds

I've had an idea for some scratchbuilds, so I started working on them this week:
One project is an asteroid base to serve as an objective or obstacle in my scenarios: 

The second WIP is a civilian spaceship that won't be your typical transport:

They'll look a lot better once they're painted--or at least primered.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Terran galactic dreadnought

Like its little brother the Samurai-class destroyer leader, the Valiant-class galactic dreadnought didn't make an appearance until some time after the Starfleet Wars rulebook came out. 
Unfortunately, I can't figure out exactly when that was--it's not listed in either SfW Book 2 or the Observer's Directory & Identification Manual.
Again, I refer to the Valiant as a "galactic dreadnought" because that's the designation it received in Galactic Knights (other GK ship classes include the smaller "dreadnought" and the larger "super galactic dreadnought").
Starfleet Wars, however, refers to all dreadnoughts as "galactic dreadnoughts"--just like it refers to "stellar destroyers" and "stellar cruisers" or "galactic battlecruisers" and "galactic attack carriers."  So the SfW Valiant was just another class of dreadnought, and not an entirely new ship type like in GK.
Note that the Val is also a lot taller than other ships in this line of miniatures.  That's because it's one of the few SfW starships that's cast in two pieces, instead of a single piece that's much more flat than this assembly.
In Galactic Knights, the Valiant can launch three missile salvoes at once, but it's weak on point defense against enemy missiles and fighters, so it can't go it alone--it needs escort craft of some sort. 
All in all, this was a fun ship to paint, although it took me awhile!  I can't wait to get it on the table for a game and see what it can do in combat.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Terran destroyer leader

In the Starfleet Wars game, the Samurai-class destroyer leader came out at around the same time as Starfleet Wars Book 2 was released. 


Interestingly, in the expansion the Samurai was listed as just another type of "Stellar Destroyer"--it wasn't until the release of the Observer's Directory and Identification Manual that this ship became known as a "Stellar Destroyer Leader."

The Sammy also received a change in power in the later supplement: reduced from a maximum of 5 offensive factors (as compared to a Swiftsure-class destroyer's max 2 OF) in SfW2 to a maximum of 3 offensive factors in the ODIM.

In Galactic Knights, the DL is portrayed as an answer to the threat of star bombers and their plasma torpedoes, which the Swiftsures could not adequately hold off.  This is the second of two Terran destroyer leaders in my collection, painted in opfor colors; the other is in my standard Terran scheme.