More on Mad Maximillian 1934, an ongoing project


Part 2 of 2.  In which I greatly expand on the Mad Maximillian 1934 material…

BRUMM Bentley Le Mans 30 Touring Car, an Ebay Purchase modified with a twin Vickers MG and two drivers from Sloppy Jalopy.

Mad Maximillian 1934 (MadMax34) is a very small scale skirmish game set in a dystopic past– that’s right, the past, during the Depression.  The publisher, Mana Press, doesn’t flesh out the back story very much, as I indicated in the previous post.   Just take it as a given that some form of world wide calamity has occurred some time after WWI, roughly corresponding with our Depression.  The setting has a decidedly English focus, which I like (although the publisher and the miniatures manufacturer are resolutely Australian).  I just don’t associate English country roads with Dystopia, which lends a little charm to the idea.  The theme of the game is car combat– on a much lower end technologically than comparable games from the past– such as Car Wars or games of that ilk.  The Interwar years are a favorite period for me, and MadMax34 is definitely positioned “in there somewhere.”  The rulebook, from Mana Press, is about 56 pages, with photographs on many pages and blueprints for cars and a turning template in the back part of the book.  As far as I know, there isn’t a printed copy of the rulebook available at this time, but I could be wrong.  I got mine as a watermarked PDF from Wargame Vault.  I don’t regret the purchase.  I can read the rules on my tablet, which is maybe slightly less handy than paper but that’s fine by me in the long run.

One of the two Eureka kits I purchased for this game. I modeled this on the GREEN MACHINE example in the book. Two rocket pods on a sliding sheet metal rack, and fixed forward facing MGs.

Mechanics:

In terms of game mechanics I don’t think MadMax34 is going to give anyone a serious headache.  They are dirt simple and “bucket of sixes” based.  I like that– not every game has to be about gun calibers and armor thicknesses and firing aspects.  The key mechanic is to roll a FATE roll and a FORTUNE roll.  The outcome determines if you pull off your slick maneuver, or flip your tin lizzy into a scrapheap.  Simply put, FATE = “bad things” FORTUNE = “good things”.

1936 Shelsley Walsh Hillclimb, Auto Union 5.3L C-Type. I fudged the year, as I liked the diecast model. Diecast conversions are a lot of fun– this one has two Lewis MG firing forward and either a couple of oil slick generators or paint sprayers (see red cans).

Taking an example right out of the rulebook, During the Movement Phase, Player A wants to make a tight turn.  Her vehicle is already damaged, which adds FATE dice (everything is 1D6 based, but Fate should be red and Fortune white for ease of play).  So she rolls a 3,4,5,6,2 & 6.  Like a lot of games using buckets of six siders, you count 5 and 6 results.  Player A counts 3 Fate here. 
Player A then responds with a Fortune roll of Vehicle Handling plus Driver Skill, which sorts out as: 3,6,4,1 & 6.  She scores two Fortunes.   THEN, subtract Fate from Fortune, and that’s the modifier of -1.  Yikes.  Go to Skidding test. 

“Hillbilly Blitzkrieg” Another fine diecast conversion, this from some Pacific Rim diecast manufacturer. Ford 1932 basic black pickup, with Rocket tubes (2), Vickers mounted on hood, and some welded on extra armor here and there. I added a harpoon guy from Pulp Figures to give the vehicle a little verisimilitude.

Activation and Initiative, Turn Order, blah blah blah

In my  mind, there are only so many ways you can design a game that involves vehicles shooting at each other, in motion, even at lower speeds.  You have to take into account current acceleration, shooting, defending, maneuvering safely and at high risk, and what happens when you take damage or don’t make a turn.  That is the core of it.  I’ve played around at this myself– see: White Line Fever.  They are all equally valid, great ways of simulating these factors.  MadMax34 does a very good job of factoring in these elements in a straightforward fashion.  Initiative is easy.  The player moving at the highest Speed (at start of turn) Activates, or goes first.  If tied, the smaller vehicle goes first.  If tied, roll a danged dice, won’t you?  Activation leads to performing each of the three actions in any order the driver chooses: Move, Attack and Special.

A Brumm Bugatti type 30 (diecast, found on Ebay) with a Lewis MG up top and an improvised anti-tank rifle bolted on the left plays chicken with an oncoming Green Machine. I’m sanguine about this chances.

There are several nuances to movement and honestly I’m not going to go in depth with each one– a thumbnail would be: You can adjust speed up or down by one, with no problems.  You can STOMP on the brakes but these vehicles are ramshackle and you may need to check the car to see if it skids or not.  You can FANG IT (accelerate as fast as you can) but that also might cause the rather battered engine, which is likely running on corn squeezings these days, to explode or some other dramatic response.  Really, my favorite bit of these rules is the turning template, which is design elegance.

This is a PDF template in the rules, but you can order a laser cut version from THINGS IN THE BASEMENT (whose picture this is). I just ordered two of them. Click on the picture to visit their store.

Simply place the incoming (up facing) arrow aligned with the front of the vehicle, and twist the the adjustable (top) arrow in the direction you need to go. The farther you turn it, the more FATE DICE you have to throw to make the turn. I like this. It might be difficult to use in tight terrain but I’ll figure it out. There are special rules for special maneuvers like the bootlegger’s turn, and what happens when you skid or flip, but I won’t describe them in detail. Crashing is pretty bad in a MadMax34 vehicle, you basically roll to see how severe it is.. the consequences are rather tough on these (well used, poorly constructed) vehicles.

Click Me
The first model I bought from Eureka. This is a sport racing vehicle (generic “Flyer”) with a pintle mounted AAMG in the back. I love the figures– they are very dynamic. These kits are designed with a high degree of customization in mind; I went very basic with this one. Click on the picture to see the customization kit and other vehicle kits at Eureka.

Winning is a rather loose concept, and usually involves pounding the snot out of your opponents. There are scenario goals that determine victory conditions. There are about 4 scenarios in the rules (I think).

Vehicle Construction/Availability

MadMax34 comes with design-your-vehicle modules, just like the old CAR WARS game did. You have about four chassis sizes and each of them has a number of hard points assigned. The more hard points, the more creative you can be with what you strap on to the car to create mayhem with. Most of the vehicles I created had very few hard points– 5 or lower (five being average). I may have stretched the concept of “hard points” by including hand weapons, which I don’t agree would take up a mounting on your vehicle. I also add additional armor here and there and that technically is using a hard point as well– how many, I’m not sure. One of the reasons I hesitated jumping into this project was my perception that vehicles and drivers would be hard to find. That has NOT proven to be the case. A typical browse through Ebay will provide auctions for diecast vehicles that are perfectly within period. I have fielded a Bugatti Type 30, a Bentley Touring Car, a shabby 1932 Ford Pickup, and an odd “Shelby Walsh Hillclimber” that looks suspiciously futuristic but was historically built in 1936. Close enough.

Bentley Touring Car (1930), a diecast model, chasing a generic 3 Wheeler Cyclecar from 1st Corps (resin kit with metal bits). I’ll probably add more weapons to these or improvised armor, as both have hard points to spare. The Bentley is a BRUMM Diecast vehicle, easy to find on auction sites.

In addition, I highly recommend 1stCorps in the UK for period armor vehicles (if you want to build the largest vehicles in the game), they also have a section for pulp style vehicles (not many) with a lot of style. I picked up a generic 3 wheeler Cycle Car and put a dual Vickers on it, along with a gunner that is armed with a side arm. In addition, I picked up a WWI era dispatch motorcyle with a Maxim machine gun installed, and added some civilian touches.

WWI era BEF Dispatch motorcycle from 1stCorps.  I added a passenger figure Sloppy Jalopy, and painted the driver and gunner in a non specific “uniform”

Of course, you can also get miniatures from Eureka Australia or USA, under their small (but hopefully growing) Mad Maximillian line. The twist is you can always use the same kits to make more than one radically different vehicle. I’ve only touched the surface of customization, I want to build a flame thrower car next. The real difficulty is obtaining vehicle weapons (which I found from a number of sources) and especially drivers. The scaling between Eureka and 1stCorp isn’t a perfect match by a long shot, but when the drivers are sitting down, it’s hardly noticable. Stan Johansen (of Road Warrior 20mm fame, I’ve mentioned him on here before), also makes some 28mm driver and gunner figures– pretty rudimentary but it does the job nicely– and a paintjob hides a lot of things. He also has a ton of add on hand weapons like ATRs, shotguns and the like, so their figures are customizable, more so than Eureka or 1stCorps. In addition to THAT, Sloppy Jalopy has some very spirited and thematic looking drivers and passengers (the Tommy gunner on the back of the Motorcycle is one). You need to check those out!

Another look at 1st Corps three wheeler touring car, decked out for mayhem. I may add some more armor.

I don’t see terrain being a big obstacle. This game plays well on a 4 x 6 and even smaller space– I don’t recommend having more than 10 players due to the scale. Ground scale isn’t specified anywhere, but the models are large, and I forsee problems with table geometry. So maybe some craters, maybe some rubbled buildings.. a dirt road, some hills, dead trees, barbed wire.. I have all those already!

In conclusion

As I’ve alluded to, this has been a fun project to work on, especially the part about customizing and creating vehicles out of kits and diecast. I haven’t tested it yet but I plan to as soon as I move back in to my house. The vehicles were variably priced (the resin kits actually more expensive than the diecasts I found on Ebay, but more militant looking).  The rules are very straight forward and almost expendable, really.  You could play this with a game of your choice as long as you track the basic elements of road combat games– speed, shooting, protection, damage.. etc.  My only disappointment (and it is very minor) is that the period fluff is almost absent.  There is a long wheedling narrative at the front of the document but it isn’t a very conclusive or convincing depiction of the setting (can’t help kvetching, this is a favorite historical period of mine).  Other than that, I would recommend it highly.

STUFF:

Slideshow of all my conversions and kit vehicles built so far on flickr

Some Youtube “Project Videos”

From the rulebook, Mana Press. A collection of the Eureka Miniatures custom cars— except white lightning (second from bottom), which doesn’t seem to be a kit you can buy.

SOURCES MENTIONED in both posts

  • 1st Corps (WWI range and 20th Century Follies. Also some good individual standing figures)
  • Eureka Miniatures USA (and of course, Australia) The basic customizable car kits are produced by Nic Robson’s Eureka miniatures and Eureka USA for us Yanks. I highly recommend the custom parts kit you can purchase as an extra. You can also buy drivers and gunners (3 types) individually.
  • Company B is a company that sells period authentic vehicle mount machine guns– mostly twin mount Vickers and Lewis. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
  • Sloppy Jalopy sells a great line of 28mm drivers and passengers, right inside the period..
  • For individual pedestrian figures, try Pulp Figures. In scale and totally in period.
  • Copplestone’s gangster figures also work as pedestrians.
  • Hexxy Shop sells all kinds of interesting bits for vehicle conversion and customization, although their SF stuff is pretty futuristic.
  • Stan Johansen makes a Road Warrior line which is very futuristic but features drivers and gunners in 28mm that are dressed with minimal detail, so they work in the 1930s.

12 comments

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  2. Hey Nizz, Mana press just linked your posts about their game, and I noticed you have some question about the cars. I think I can try to answer those as I designed the cars and most of the parts for Eureka. The grill with the machine guys you appear to have located, the front on shot indeed does not give a good idea of what that looks like in eureka’s product picture. As for the wheel covers on the other car, the smallest tricycle car comes with those. They replace the entire axle arrangement and are as modular as the rest of the cars. If you get the tricycle and another car you can put the wheel covers on the other car and give the tricycle normal wheels. If you have any more question shoot away, there was some sane idea behind most of them at some point.

    • Tim: thanks very much for replying on here. I’m hoping Nic (at least) can sell individual parts like the wheel covers as separate items. I’m more than willing to buy another flyer but to purchase two cars to make ONE car is cost prohibitive– and it should at least be mentioned in the “where to get or build vehicles” notes in the rules. The flyer is 22 USD, the Tribekka also 22. I can make almost three diecast conversions for 44 dollars. I’ll email Nic about it.

      • I have no association with Eureka besides doing sculpts for them on occasion so I can’t really comment, but Nic tends to be very good about selling separate parts. If I remember correctly he tried to sell it in a more mix and match fashion first, but people kept asking for pre-build sets to make stuff “the way its meant”

      • PS. And like I pointed out, you would be buying 2 cars and could then make 2 cars from the parts, even if you swap stuff around. Still not a cheap option though I agree.

  3. Thanks for your excellent articles, Nizz! Great to read. I’m heading down a similar route to you into the maelstrom of Max ’34, converting diecasts. Big Bentley Sixes with twin Vickers at Le Mans!

    I wanted more drivers and fewer gunners, so I asked Nic at Eureka, and he’s been very happy to supply the drivers separately; I’m sure if you wanted spares from one car or another, he’d be just as accommodating.

    Oh, an observation about the fluff – The absence of any hard detail about what happened to cause the apocalypse post-1918 is actually something I like about Max ’34. “Why?” you might quite understandably ask. It’s because in the original Mad Max, there’s no explanation about why society is breaking down; Miller leaves us to speculate, and gets on with crashing cars. 🙂 I don’t know if the guys at Mana did that as a ‘dip of the lid’ to Max ’34’s inspiration, or if it’s merely a coincidence, but I like it.

    Drive on!

    • Hi, Martin, thank you for your kind words, and I totally agree, the Bentley Touring Car is my idea of a macho car with utter class. Still figuring out how to finish it off– I may add a figure to the back with another weapon– by Max34 construction rules, I have at least 3 hard points to spare, and I don’t want to ruin its clean lines by clamping something as crude as a rocket launcher on it. Perhaps a compressed air dart launcher though, like they were sporting in Road Warrior 82.

      From what I hear directly from Mana, the lack of background fluff is actually a symptom of rules by committee; Nic Robson was pursuing a great Australian Civil War idea, whereas some of the Mana guys wanted an ecological apocalypse. Given the logical conclusion of movie series, *something* happened to severely restrict the petroleum industry, a war, a collapse in supply, whatever. I actually think this will be an opportunity for more creativity in the long run. It would be really funny to pick up a diecast fuel tanker from the era (you can get these) and paint over the fuel company logo with a crude sign with CORN SQUEEZINS on it and a crew full of hillbilly moonshiners– a scenario where Max34 cars are either guarding or hijacking a truck like this would be huge fun. So, no, the lack of a definitive background is by no means the “downfall of this design”, but just something I expected based on my experience with other RPGs/Wargame Rules

  4. Hi ho, Mister Nizz!
    Thanks so much for this set of articles…What is your opinion on converting the game to 20mm/HO scale? The rulebook specifically says you could run 20mm as is, but I’m wondering if it would be worth it to reduce the turn template proportionally and take advantage of a smaller table space.

    • Hello, David! My opinion on converting the scale to 20mm/HO.. I wouldn’t do it. You have a nice niche built up in 1:43, and there’s a lot of diecast vehicles available in this scale and timeframe not so many in Hot Wheels or Matchbox size. I would look at the 1:43 diecast possibilities as an opportunity for getting the games’ brand out there in a way that would be more diluted in matchbox scale. Sure, Eureka could scale the existing 1:56 vehicles down to 1:72, no sweat. But they would be the sole producer inhabiting that space, and I think their product line is kind of narrow at the moment. HO/20mm has a large fan based built up on the classic futuristic Post-Apocalypse era, because there are more modern than historical matchbox sized diecasts out there. Mechanically: you might need to update that turning template a little if you go matchbox sized.. I would make the graduations larger as the vehicle is covering more ground

  5. This is oh so many kinds of awesome. I was wavering until I saw your posts – so while my wallet wont thank you, my inner dieselpunk demolition racer geek does 🙂

    What scale die casts match up to the Eureka cars? Yours are inspirational

    cheers, Paul

  6. Paul: Thanks for your kind words. As the articles state, go with 1:43 as a rule of thumb. This might seem a little counter-intuitive and “less than exact measure” but I find that the diecasts I’m working with match with the Eureka Mins scale very nicely (I suspect the Eureka human figures are a little tale, but I don’t know for sure). My only real issue is that I’m using a lot of Stan Johansen driver figures, and they are kind of beefy in 28mm, so they look pretty huge in the driver seat (See the figure in the Bugatti, or the figure in the Hill Climber). Nevertheless it all seems to pan out– you’ll have to chop the legs off the drivers to get them to fit of course. I wouldn’t want to play this game without the proper driver and gunner figures– what would be the charm in that?

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