Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Blue cat group

Speaking of Carnivorans, take a look at this cat fleet by Don M of the Brazos Evil Empire:
Some time ago, Don had mentioned he had a Carnivore fleet, but at the time he didn't have any photos up.  He was kind enough to bring his ships down to the South Texas Mini-Con last summer.  He didn't get them on the gaming table, instead he demoed When the Navy Walked

Now, he has pics up, and the space forces of the Terran Transsolar Navy stand ready to repel the invaders!  Although the Carnies were originally Starfleet Wars minis, Don says he uses them when he plays Full Thrust. I, on the other hand, usually play Starfleet Wars or Galactic Knights.  If we want our fleets to meet in battle, we're gonna have to chose a ruleset.

Either way, they're some nice looking ships.  Be sure to check out the rest of the pics of Don's Carnivoran fleet.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Superior Models copyrights

In addition to copyrights for Superior Models printed materials, the company also registered several of its miniatures, including some of the 100mm Starfleet Wars figures:

Type of Work:
Visual Material
Registration Number / Date:VA0000043007 / 1979-11-05
Title:Keech : [no.] FA-37.
Notes:Upright bird in armor.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1979
Date of Publication:1979-05-29
Authorship on Application:Ron Spicer.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Names:Spicer, Ron, 1933-
Superior Models, Inc.

Type of Work:Visual Material
Registration Number / Date:VA0000043005 / 1979-11-05
Application Title:Lion warrior.
Title:Scarr : [no.] FA-29.
Notes:Upright lion in armor.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1979
Date of Publication:1979-01-16
Date in Notice:notice: 1978
Authorship on Application:Ron Spicer.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Other Title:Lion warrior
Names:Spicer, Ron, 1933-
Superior Models, Inc.

Type of Work:Visual Material
Registration Number / Date:VA0000043006 / 1979-11-05
Application Title:Warrior lizard.
Title:Torc : [no.] FA-34.
Notes:Upright lizard in armor.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1979
Date of Publication:1979-01-31
Authorship on Application:Ron Spicer.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Other Title:Warrior lizard
Names:Spicer, Ron, 1933-
Superior Models, Inc.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sunday Starships (cont'd): second Starfleet Wars game

After our first Starfleet Wars game of the day on Saturday, I was familiar with the fighter and starbomber rules, but I wanted to try them out with more ships on each side.  Since Chris was here now, I relinquished my player's hat and oversaw the game as a referee.  As you can see, I decided to use wisps from cotton balls to mark ships that had been hit.
The scenario I pulled out of my ass carefully put together involved the Carnivorans defending a moon against an incursion by the Avarians.  The birdies' goal was to get their ships into orbit around the satellite; the kitties' job was to stop them.
The Carnies got pretty much my entire cat fleet: a Den-class galactic attack carrier, Lion-class galactic battlecruiser, two Panther-class stellar cruisers, a Cheetah-class stellar destroyer, three Kitten-class star armored pursuit ships, and three Snarl-class starbombers.
The Avarians were fewer in number, but the ships were more powerful and included a Nest-class GAC, an Eagle-class GB, a Screech Owl-class stellar destroyer leader, and three Hawk-class SDs.
I quickly realized the birds were outnumbered, so I had some transports (repurposed pirate frigates from Star Frontiers) enter on the following turn.  If they could get to the moon, that would be good for the Avarians.
It took a couple of turns with no firing before the two fleets got into range.  Long story short: the Carnivores concentrated all their fire onto the Avarian DL and vaporized it in a single turn (68 points of damage to a ship that starts with just 36 power units).  The cats also launched fighters for two turns, so they had twice as many on the board as the birds, who just launched once.  Avarian lasers quickly took out most of the Carnie SBs and SAPS.
All but one Avarian fighter was shot down, while the Carns had several survive to launch their high velocity implosion weapons at the Av ships.  More deadly, however, were the high velocity implosion weapons on the larger ships--Carnivorans have a terrific rate of fire for their missiles, and their barrage overwhelmed the Avarian battlecruiser, even though it was twice as powerful as its cat counterpart.  The birds did take out the enemy destroyer in return.  
The Avarian carrier had kept out of the fight and escorted the transports into orbit around their objective.  With two-thirds of its fighters remaining (and the Carnivorans missing more than half of their starfighters), the birds still posed a threat.  It was about time to call it quits.  I declared the game a tie. 
This play experience taught me a couple of lessons about the rules.  First, take care of all fighter/anti-fighter combat and get casualties off the board before allowing fighters to launch their missiles (but still apply fighter missile damage simultaneously at the end of the turn along with damage from ships' missiles and lasers).  Second, even though the sides were about evenly matched in terms of total power units, numbers matter when it comes to defending against fighters.  Since each ship gets 10 CIDS rolls (even if the percentage to hit is low), the more vessels you have to shoot down enemy planes, the better. 

I'm grateful to Chris and Joe for coming over to play, and I apologize for not having a more balanced scenario--Joe had a lot less to work with than he needed.  Thanks, guys, for being such good sports.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Starships: Starfleet Wars game

Some holiday weekend gaming--I was fortunate enough to gather a couple of fellow starship captains for some Starfleet Wars action when Hill Cantons blogger Chris and Johnny Reb organizer Joe made it over on Saturday. 
Chris got stuck in traffic, so the first match was between me and Joe.  My previous games only involved large ships, so I wanted to try out the rules for starfighters, as well as the rules for starbombers and star armored pursuit ships this time around.
I took a Terran Invincible-class dreadnought (which carries four starfighters) with three Mars-class starbombers and a pair of Dauntless-class SAPS as escorts.  I gave Joe two task forces: an Aquarian Stingray-class carrier accompanied by a couple of Piranha-class destroyers and an Entomalian Hive-class carrier escorted by a Wasp-class destroyer and two Louse-class star armored pursuit ships: 
The idea in this scenario was for me to get the DN off the other side of the board with enough power to reach hyperspace.  I started out behind a moon; Joe deployed his forces apart from each other hoping to get me to run the gauntlet between them.
I immediately headed to my right, around the outside of the water-breathers, for three turns.  On my fourth turn, however, I juked back toward the opposite table edge, faking out Joe, who had anticipated me continuing in the same direction.  (This is why I like simultaneous movement--it forces you to anticipate where your opponent is headed.)
While this was happening, the fish fighters quickly took out my three SBs, and the bug attack craft shot down my SAPS a couple of turns later.  I managed to eliminate one of the fish destroyers and scratch the paint on the Aquarian carrier.  The aliens in turn damaged my remaining ship by more than 10 percent--enough to reduce the amount of antiaircraft fire and give me some dilemmas in power allocation, but that's about it.
The final turn had me headed for the border with both forces in hot pursuit.  The alien team-up failed to stop the lonely dreadnought from reaching the system's edge and escaping to lightspeed.  By the time we finished, Chris had shown up.  Now that we had the fighter rules down, I decided to run a larger game with carriers on both sides.  I will share how that turned out in a later post.  For now, enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Starfleet Wars copyright info

The author of the Zenopus Archives, whose devotion to the old blue box Dungeons & Dragons rules rivals my obsession with Starfleet Wars, recently scoured the United States Copyright Office website for publication information regarding the Holmes basic D&D set

Since ZA's research proved so fruitful, I decided to follow in his footsteps and search the online catalog for similar details regarding the SfW games.  I found three entries for Starfleet Wars (links are embedded in the Copyright Office entries and go to copyright searches for that name):

Type of Work:Visual Material
Registration Number / Date:TX0000621288 / 1980-06-16
Application Title:Starships.
Title:Starfleet wars.
Notes:Catalog sheet.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1978
Date of Publication:1978-07-24
Authorship on Application:Superior Models, Inc., employer for hire of Ron Spicer.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Names:Spicer, Ron, 1937-
Superior Models, Inc.

Type of Work:Visual Material
Registration Number / Date:TX0000621289 / 1980-06-16
Application Title:Starfleet wars game board.
Title:Starfleet wars.
Imprint:Claymont, Del. : Superior Models, c1978.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1978
Date of Publication:1978-07-24
Authorship on Application:Superior Models, Inc., employer for hire of Ron Spicer.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Names:Spicer, Ron, 1937-
Superior Models, Inc.

Type of Work:Text
Registration Number / Date:TX0000509051 / 1980-04-29
Title:Starfleet wars / [written by Wayne Smith ; designed & illustrated by Ron Spicer].
Imprint:Claymont, DE : Superior Models, c1978.
Description:16 p.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1978
Date of Publication:1978-07-24
Authorship on Application:Superior Models, Inc., employer for hire.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Names:Smith, Wayne
Spicer, Ron
Superior Models, Inc.

I also found an entry for MAATAC (which is spelled with spaces in between the letters for some reason):

Type of Work:Text
Registration Number / Date:TX0000509050 / 1980-04-29
Title:The Intergalactic wargame of great armored fighting machines : M A A T A C / [written by Wayne Smith ; designed & illustrated by Ron Spicer].
Imprint:Claymont, DE : Superior Models, c1979.
Description:16 p.
Copyright Claimant:Superior Models, Inc.
Date of Creation:1979
Date of Publication:1979-07-10
Authorship on Application:Superior Models, Inc., employer for hire.
Copyright Note:C.O. correspondence.
Other Title:M A A T AC
Names:Smith, Wayne
Spicer, Ron
Superior Models, Inc.

My thanks to Zenopus Archives for pointing me to this great resource!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Another vintage Starfleet Wars review

I recently came across another old article on the Starfleet Wars line of miniature starships, which I had overlooked when I composed my original post on vintage SfW reviews.  So here's one more take on this old range of spaceships from back in the day.

Dragon #51 (July 1981)
In the regular miniatures review column, "Figuratively Speaking," author Bill Fawcett notes the clean castings and amount of detail on the Starfleet Wars minis.
... The Terran ships are obviously drawn from Star Wars ship types, and these figures beg to be used with any rules which recreate the battles from those movies. 

The other fleets (Entomalian, Avarian, Aquarian, and Carnivorian) have a great diversity in styling, making the members of each fleet stand out from one another.
The reviewer notes just one weakness--something I've touched upon as well--that the ships' undersides hold just as much detail as their topsides.

Bonus review: The same column examines the Stardate: 3000 line of miniatures, noting they're "generally original in design, with only a passing resemblance to the Star Trek and Star Wars-style ships. ... The detail is well-done, castings are generally clean, and the parts fit together properly."

Thursday, November 24, 2011


For those readers outside the United States, today is the day we in this country celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.  It's a time for Americans to overeat to the point of discomfort, squabble with relatives, drink heavily while watching televised sports events, and get up extremely early the next morning to engage in full-tilt consumerism while sliding deeper into debt.

But it's also a time for us to reflect on the things for which we're grateful.  In addition to the usual--food, shelter, family, no one shooting at me or any of my loved ones--I'm thankful for the many gaming opportunities I've had in recent years.

My teen years were the golden age of my gaming; time grew scarce as I got older, and my playing time slowly dwindled as I went to college and then out into the real world.  Although I kept all my game materials (and occasionally found new items in secondhand bookstores and game shops), I stopped playing in the 1990s, dabbling in computer versions of AD&D to feed my habit.  It wasn't till a decade later, thanks to the internet, that I returned to the gaming world.  Since then, I've had a chance to play RPGs and minis games, attend cons, and made new friends through my gaming.

While living in San Antonio, I started wargaming on a regular basis with the Lone Star Historical Miniatures gang.  I also started playing in the Hill Cantons campaign--and I even got my wife to come along with me.  I've run games at conventions and even helped organize a small con myself.  Not only that, but I've had a chance to give back a little to the community with this blog.  So this Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my gratitude for all the gaming opportunities I currently have.  It may be a frivolous pastime, but I enjoy it.

On a related note, when I was younger we'd all go to my aunt's or my cousins' house for dinner, and one of the post-meal traditions we had was playing the boardgame Risk.  Nothing like grinding your relatives' armies into the ground while conquering the world!  Does anyone else have a similar holiday gaming tradition?

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Search for the Emperor's Treasure

Weekend before last, I got together with Chris and Brad for a little retrogaming.  Chris trotted out Search for the Emperor's Treasure, a nifty little game that originally appeared in issue 51 of Dragon Magazine.
It had been close to three decades since I'd played SftET, so it was like playing an entirely new game.  The idea is to move your character around the map, acquiring treasures and resolving encounters.  The game ends when a certain number of the emperor's treasures have been found. Whoever ends up with the most goodies wins the game.
The fun thing about the game is that if you draw an encounter that doesn't aply to the terrain you're in, you can play that encounter on another player who is in that terrain.  A drawback is that a player can camp on certain locations and keep searching for treasure (that's how I ended up winning--you can see all my bling in the picture above).  Still, we had a good time playing, and even talked about building a large game board for use with miniatures at the next South Texas Mini Con.  Then Chris pointed out this giant version of the SftET board, and I decided I could never do as good a job.

UPDATE: Head on over to the Hill Cantons for Chris's take on the game.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Broken Lands

Riffing some more on Chris's post about a sense of place in your role-playing game settings, my recent trip out to far West Texas brought to mind the Broken Lands from B/X D&D's Known World setting
For those of you not familiar with that milieu, when the D&D Expert Set came out, it included, along with the Expert rulebook, the adventure X1 Isle of Dread.  That module contained a short gazeteer with descriptions of various areas in the game setting (called the Known World), including the Broken Lands, "an area of rocky badlands and old volcanic lava beds ... inhabited mainly by outcasts and monsters." 
I wonder if the writer had this part of West Texas in mind when he came up with the Broken Lands.  Looks like monster territory to me.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Opponent's army: Mouse Guard

For your viewing pleasure, some pictures of a fellow Hordes of the Things player's army: Brian's Mouse Guard.  It's based on the comic of the same name, and mounted on 60mm bases.
These miniatures are all (I think) Splintered Light figures, and the basing with craft store decorations gives the stands a very rustic feel.
I'm not personally familiar with any of the characters from this series, so I can't tell you who each stand is supposed to represent, other than their HotT elements.
Also, this isn't Brian's entire army, just what he used for a game of HotT.  It's been over a year since I took these photos, so I can't remember what else he might have added to this collection.
All in all, this is a very creative interpretation of the Mouse Guard characters.  That's what I love about Hordes of the Things--you can put pretty much anything on the table as part of an army.
In particular, this is an innovative way to model a swarm of bees--illustrations of the winged insects--until you can find the exact minis you need (the bit of paper there is supposed to be the beehive).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Starships: Privateers

I finally painted up the last of the starships in the Star Frontiers privateers boxed set I scored in last summer's Half-Price Books miniatures find (you can find the rest of the painted privateers here).
These are about twice as large as the other spacecraft in the privateers set, but thematically they blend in just fine.  The streamlining makes them suitable for atmospheric missions, while they have enough engine capacity to perform deep-space tasks as well.
These craft could probably serve as Class II or Class III vessels for War Rocket.  In Galactic Knights or Starfleet Wars, I can use them as in-system defense or local police, or just civilian targets/objectives.
Now that I'm done with the privateers, I need to paint up the Sathar ships my wife picked up for me.  Not sure what paint scheme, but I think I want to go multicolor.  It will have to wait till after Thanksgiving, though.
 Oh, and here's some pics of each ship by itself.  First, the Condor Class:
 Next, we have the Moonlight Stinger:
Finally, the Rollo's Revenge:
Hope you enjoyed these, and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Texas HotT championship

Photo courtesy Lone Star Historical Miniatures.  Click here for more con pics.
Although I missed Millennium Con this year, I did want to share the results from the Hordes of the Things tournament that took place last weekend at the miniatures gaming convention in Round Rock.  Here are the results, courtesy of tourney organizer Blake Radetzky:
This past weekend we held the Texas State Championship tournament for 40mm Hordes of the Things.
Our new Texas Champion is: Mark Leroux with his Sons of Liberty army
Tournament Shakedown
  1. Mark Leroux - Sons of Liberty - 28 pts
  2. Warren Jackson - Persian Epic - 25 pts
  3. Cameron Radetsky - Orcs - 16 pts
  4. Chip Aaron - Hobgoblins of Dragon Claw - 14 pts
The final round between Mark and Warren was a close run affair, the Sons of Liberty had destroyed 10pts worth of the Persian Epic army and was on the brink of winning the final game, however, a Persian Hero finally assualted the Sons of Liberty headquarters and captured it thus winning the game. But the bonus of +6 pts and winning the game was not enough points to pull ahead of Mark in total victory points.
Congratulations to everyone that participated.
Way to go, HotT gamers!  I regret not being able to attend the game convention myself, but I at least survived the event I did participate in last weekend.  Hopefully, I can make it to Millennium Con next year, or to ChimaeraCon this April.  I want to play some Hordes of the Things!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Giant's Flower Garden

Here's a little something for you to drop in your sandbox game: The Giant's Flower Garden.  This is a bit of scenery that can add a sense of the fantastic to an otherwise mundane, barren area.

Far to the southwest of the realm, in the arid wastelands of the border region, gargantuan plants sprout from the ground.  Locals say that decades or centuries ago, a giant sowed seeds all along the ridgelines.  The flowers that emerged grew straight and tall, looming 70 or 80 feet above the earth. The giant blossoms have three narrow petals, each half as long as the stem, emerging at equidistant intervals from the top of the plant.  Sometimes the petals partially break off from the stem and rotate in the wind, like a strange windmill.
These flora sprout on the edge of windswept bluffs, rows upon rows, for miles and miles.  The stems, hollow except for roots, are up to six feet wide at the base and made of some tough, strong material as tough as metal, yet as light as procelain.  If cut with the proper tools, the stem makes decent armor.  The roots of these plants are as thick as a man's wrist and stretch for miles across the dusty soil, connecting the blooms to one another and spreading out in all directions.  The roots are covered in a tough, yet flexible, sheath that is easily cut with a sharp blade.  The roots' interior consists of strands of pure copper, yet they remain mostly untouched by the area's inhabitants.  After all, the titanic gardener could return at any time, and he wouldn't take kindly to those who dig up his prize flowers ...
Chris over at the Hill Cantons asked about what fuels your sense of place when it comes to your fantasy games.  Well, the above vistas inspired me to come up with this flavor text as I drove through the empty expanses of West Texas on my way to a chili cookoff.  The windmills are visible for miles on each side as you pass between Ozona and Fort Stockton on Interstate 10.  Here's what the road itself looked like for a good part of the seven-hour drive:
Suddenly, my daily commute doesn't look quite as bad.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The castle and the glacier

This is a pic of a Heroscape map I designed and built some three years ago.  I decided to post it just because.  I don't think I've played HS in over two years now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Day of the Dead

My wife put together an altar for Dia de los Muertos to commemorate her father, his parents, and her maternal grandfather.  Like most traditional Mexican altars for the holiday, it includes pictures of the deceased, liquor, and candy.  However, we neglected to pick up any of the calaveras (sugar skulls) to decorate the altar.  So I was very flattered when my spouse asked if she could use some of my miniature skeletons to adorn it.  Of course I said yes!
In addition to the skeletal drummer (above), a metal Warhammer figure, my beloved used several plastic skeletons (most holding scythes) and even a skeletal horse.  I'm flattered I was able to contribute to the altar and share in this tradition with my wife.
Speaking of Day of the Dead, last year my wife and I made a skeletal hound for my sister-in-law, who had lost her dog some months before. 
I created a frame by bending a wire coathanger with a pair of pliers, then mi esposa used air-drying modeling clay to build up the figure.  She painted it white, I painted the black lines to denote the skeleton, and she touched it up and folded the miniature flowers from tissue paper.
For more on el Dia de los Muertos, check out the Wikipedia entry on Day of the Dead.