Tag Archives: Small Wars

Pulp Science Fiction Miniatures 2/2


And here’s some more of the same series.

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What I’m working on March 2017


I don’t think gamers (the miniatures kind) are ever happy enough in a stasis state. There’s always a next big thing, which is a blessing and a curse. I have my share of projects completed that I do go back to– Big Danged Boats, The Magi, White Line Fever. I also have my share of Next Big Things. Here are a few of them.

Most game systems design I do starts with an idea. The idea could be fully formed, or just sort of occur to me in increments– like “Pig wrestling is funny, but there’s hardly a game there”.. what if it’s part of a much bigger system? These two started out as notions.

SPY RUN

The notion came to me when of ALL things, I was seeing the Melissa McCarthy movie about her being a Top Secret spy “handler” that guides her “field operative” (a treacherous Jude Law) via satellite transmission and helps him anticipate what the next big problem will be. The movie was (surprise!) pretty entertaining and very funny. More importantly, it got me thinking– that link between controller and field operative was kind of cool.. there might be a game in there. How to simulate this? Easy. Figures to be the field operative, and a player that doesn’t have a figure with access to map/floorplan/some idea of what’s next and what’s lurking around the corner. I see it as a complex, revealed gradually to the controller (via a small white board) who sits a distance apart from the players. The players and the controller have cellphones. The players transmit a picture of the hallway at miniature’s eye level, and the controller looks at what he/she sees, and directs them accordingly. Along the way the referee may insert encounters, traps, even competitive spy teams into the mix. Usually he gives the controller a short warning time, and he/she can communicate it to the team. The challenge is keeping the controller guessing and not supplying complete information, and not revealing the entire layout to the players all at once, they have to build it as they go.

As far as figures go, I’m looking for stuff that hearkens back to the 1960s and 70s, as this is firmly in the Cold War espionage time period. Fortunately I don’t need a lot of figures, that’s not really the challenge here. Mark Copplestone’s KISS KISS BANG BANG is a very good start.

Spies for Spy Run

My recent acquisitions.  A mix of spies, KGB men, and some evil geniuses for SPY RUN. Can you spot the thinly disguised versions of fictional characters?  Which ones do you notice here?

There are other good sources for figures– I don’t really want ultra modern militarized SWAT guys as agents, because that defeats the purpose and theme of the game immediately.  CROOKED DICE STUDIOS is also a strong contender as they favor that campy 60s Television spy thing.

Some Crooked Dice Frogmen encounter an evil genius Henchman. From the Crooked Dice website.

So really, you’ll need some villian major characters, some villain uber-elite characters, the spies and some henchmen. The later can be replaced and recycled as the game continues.

Here’s some cost-affordable henchmen goons I got by converting some HYDRA henchmen from HEROCLIX to non-clickie goons. I like the Hydra look, in general. It’s very campy.

Henchmen goons for .75 cents a stand! Yeah!

So that’s where I’m at with SPY RUN. The figures are pretty much the easiest part. Making the maze they navigate through will be much harder. I’m working on some ideas.

DASH!

This is a weird idea that came to me, in all things, a dream. I was daydreaming about super fast people (like the Flash) running around a giant aerial maze. I woke up trying to figure out the mechanics of a super fast track race (kind of). My first cut, to build a sort of jigsaw track that suspends in the air, just seems too weird and ungainly. I think I have it down now, though.. you have to ask yourself “what’s this game REALLY about?” It’s not about running a maze, it’s about what happens to someone going ultra fast, how they turn, how the slow down, what happens if they gain too much momentum. I see it as a wave of air being pushed in front of the super-fast figure, which can do damage itself. Stopping when you are going that fast is certainly possible but what happens to the shoes you are wearing if you are going close to Mach 1 and you suddenly have to slow down? How do you make a 90 degree turn without hitting a wall? How do you avoid getting friction burns? The Flash makes it look so easy. I abandoned the maze idea, and now I’m going with a long course that wraps around several tables and over several environments, each with challenges. The runner shows speed by putting tokens behind him. He can cover an enormous amount of distance with three tokens, but if he wishes to turn or avoid danger he’ll have to slow down somehow, but taking damage in his shoes (then his feet). If there’s a runner ahead of him, he can draft (avoid wind resistance).

DASH! Participants

Since the game will seat 8 comfortably and require lots of tables, this will only ever be a late night con or camp game, but I could see having fun with this concept.

Other things: still collecting figures for VIKING LOOTERS, SAGA and FROSTGRAVE and my pulp spaceman game, which will probably be executed using the 7TV rules.  My collection has grown.

Pulp Spaceman game, probably using 7TV

More pulp spacemen and aliens

Frostgrave figures, can you guess the source of these?

Chinese Hopping vampires for Frostgrave

More Henchmen for Frostgrave

Thieves for Frostgrave

Vikings for VIKING LOOTERS and SAGA

YALU

I’ve also kept my hand in in a constrained space by starting to paint up 1:2400 pre-dreadnought fleets. I’m just about done for the battle of Yalu (China vs. Japan 1894) and am going to start on the Battle of Santiago De Cuba (US vs Spain) next.

The plucky but doomed Beiyang Fleet, China, 1894

So as you can see I’ve been busy over the Winter, and hope to get at least the naval stuff on a table somewhere soon.

Until next time!

Small Wars: Vikings and Frostgrave


Since I’ve been somewhat hampered in my hobby pursuits by having my house almost destroyed, all my study packed up and the walls demolished, I haven’t had ready access to things that I traditionally spend the Winter on, like painting up miniatures for gaming projects.  I’ll live, of course, but I have a need to bump up my forces on a few nearer term projects, such as running a gaming camp this Summer.  Fortunately, my friend John Montrie, being retired, has been around to provide a brush for hire, and he’s helped bump up my forces when I’ve had to exchange money for time for the past few years.  And thank the Deity for that, too– I don’t think I could have gotten Big Danged Boats or Frostgrave off the ground without his timely assistance.  As he’s off to China for a few months I thought I’d pop up to Rockville and visit, eat some Mexican food and pick up some troops I had him working on.  Needless to say, I’m pretty pleased with the results, or I wouldn’t be posting about it!  At Fall IN I had picked up another pack of Frostgrave Soldiers (the standard 28mm semi-medieval Soldiers, 22 figures, plastic, Northstar Games).  I also picked up some newer Frostgrave specialty figures– the Lich and Apprentice, The Crowmaster & Javileneer, and the Elementalist II & Apprentice.  All in pewter, 28mm, Northstar Games.

First off, the Goons.  These are the troops that make up the retainers and followers of the wizard figures in Frostgrave:

I gave John very little guidance.. if he has a fault at all, it’s that he tends to use the same four basic primary colors (red, green, blue, yellow) as uniform highlights. I don’t mind that so much, it allows me to cluster the henchmen in handy groups.  Still, I wanted something different so I asked John to focus on darker colors and purples.  He delivered!

Here are the new major characters in pewter:

Crowmaster and Javelineer

I understand what the Javelineer does.. he tosses Javelins.  What the Crow Master does I’ll have to read up on.  Maybe the Crow flies around like another set of eyes and spies on people.

Beast Crafter and Apprentice

This looks somewhat obvious- the Beast Crafter is some form of shapeshifter that can transform himself  into animal shape.

Elementalist II and Apprentice

This is the second form of the “Elementalist” Wizard from Northstar.  I think I might like the older figures better.. more dynamic.  Eh, what the heck, they’ll make good thieves.

Lich and Apprentice

I don’t know what a Lich is in Frostgrave terms.. I always thought it was the animated dead body of a powerful wizard– and usually appears as a skeleton in wizard regalia.  This looks more like Elric of Melnibone all tarted up or something.. no matter, it’s a cool figure.

That brings me up to 44 Soldiers from two packs, 22 cultists.  With the Dark Ages Vikings and Saxon figures I have painted up for SAGA and Battle Troll, I have something on the order of 120 figures I could use for “Goons” for Frostgrave warbands.  I’m still going to get the barbarian pack(s) and I’ll probably add some variety figures in there too (like a couple of all female warbands, a dwarf warband, a Chinese Warband, and an elven warband), but I have enough soldiers and wizard figures to comfortably run games of 10 players or more– maybe even a dozen.

Viking Looters

Another project I’d like to start running this summer is the venerable VIKING LOOTERS game.  This is a venerable convention game designed by the great Jim Birdseye years ago.  The scenario couldn’t be more simple – you are a Viking and need to get back to the boat first with the most loot (represented by pennies spraypainted gold). Your movement rate is based on the amount of loot you carry. All players start at the same distance from the boat. The fun comes in that each player is dealt several cards. Each card represents an event, usually bad for someone, usually the Viking himself.  The cards cause an opponent to drop pennies, fight battles, become pursued or otherwise delayed from returning to the boat. A turn consists of each player deciding whether or not to play a card on an opponent, or passing (not playing a card). Once all cards in a turn are played (face down on the table), the GM reveals them in an order that makes sense.

Yes, the “screw the opponent” factor is high.  I know I have plenty of fighting Vikings on board– about 44 of them.  However, I don’t yet have enough of regular people doing regular things– like the Saxon villagers, herdsmen, wenches, old women, and various random characters you meet in the game.  I’m still working on the villagers, but found a pack of Old Glory “Revenge” line Viking looters in smaller 28mm.  These are Vikings doing what  you associate with being vikings– raiding, drinking and taking stuff.

Most of these were crafted to have open palms for adding “stuff” to them.. like chickens, weapons, gold and jewelry, etc.

You can see there are some villagers in there– I also have some clergy. I am getting some sheepherders done and I still need some wenches and stock animals. Pretty much standard Dark ages figures.

I plan to run this game at camp.  As you already know, I have a great Viking Ship I built from a kit that I can use for a prop.  Scenery is pretty minimal.  I’ll add in a swamp that surrounds the ship except on the River side, with just one plank leading up to the boat and a big ship guard trying to rob you as you come on board– you can’t make it TOO easy!

Anyway, I love Frostgrave and always wanted to get Viking Looters off the ground, so that’s going to be my new project for the year.

Small Wars: Frostgrave, what’s it all about


Today’s SMALL WARS post is about FROSTGRAVE, the new-ish fantasy skirmish game set in the frost shrouded city that gives the game its name. Frostgrave is a game of magic, combat, looting and exploration that combines a little old and a little new with a strong fantasy narrative element that fosters both a connected campaign game and good storytelling.


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Amidst the frozen ruins of an ancient city, wizards battle in the hopes of discovering the treasures of a fallen empire. In this fantasy skirmish wargame, each player takes on the role of a wizard from one of ten schools of magic, and builds his band of followers. The wizard’s apprentice will usually accompany his master, and more than a dozen other henchman types are available for hire, from lowly thugs to heavily armoured knights and stealthy thieves. Wizards can expand their magical knowledge by unlocking ancient secrets and may learn up to 80 different spells. While individual games of Frostgrave are quick and can easily be played in an hour or two, it is by connecting them into an ongoing campaign that players will find the most enjoyment. The scenarios given in the book are merely the beginning of the limitless adventures that can be found amidst the ruins of the Frozen City. [Osprey Publishing]

[editorial note— I use the phrase “blue line” here to represent most of Osprey Publishing’s recent output of low-cost, introductory miniature game rules on a myriad of subjects, both historical and fantastical, because of their distinctive use of the color blue on the cover.  Osprey does not use this term as far as I know]

frostgraveFrostgrave came out from Osprey Publishing earlier this year (2015), with the usual minimal fanfare I associate with an Osprey wargame release– I knew nothing about this game, then suddenly it was on the Osprey publisher table at wargame conventions, on Amazon, and there was some online buzz associated with it, about as much as any other “blue series” Osprey wargame– one more among the horde of releases, in my opinion.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the blue line series of rules, and I’m happy that Osprey is stepping up to the plate and supporting the natural marriage of great historical art and somewhat okay wargame rules at a very affordable price.  I especially like the Kindle releases of said rules, for various reasons.  I do think the flood of releases tends to create a “cult of the new” effect, when Osprey Publishing might be better employed releasing fewer rulebooks a year and doing the legwork associated with new entertainment products– building some social media buzz, energizing a fan base, recruiting some GMs to run high-profile demo games, etc.  For all I know, this is being done, somewhere, I just haven’t seen much of it in the historical miniatures community.  A quick look at the Preliminary Events List (PEL) at a recent Historical theme miniatures convention (Fall-IN! 2015) showed few, if any, games being run from Osprey publishing previous line of blue line rules.  That’s including In Her Majesty’s Name, a blue line game release that came out with lots of fanfare, two expansion books and a series of excellent 28mm figures from Northstar Miniatures.   In Her Majesty’s Name has only been out since the middle of 2014, and already, well, nada… and it’s a great little game, too!

One game I did start to notice being run at conventions (including Fall-IN!) was Frostgrave, released in the first half of 2015, was not following the “blue line pattern”.  First of all, it’s not a thin paperback, not that there is anything wrong with that.  The print edition is a large format hardcover, with extensive and vibrant illustration throughout.  It’s also 96 pages, which is quite a bit more extensive then the smaller paperbacks.  That’s not all fluff and superfluous stuff, either, but lots and lots of supporting material for the game, including campaign options, but we’ll get to that shortly.

To characterize Frostgrave by a certain type, it’s a points-based, fantasy themed skirmish game set in a consistent universe, namely of various parties investigating the ruins of an ancient city of Frostgrave.  If that sounds familiar to gamers with longer memories, yes, this has been done before as a game– namely Mordheim, by Games Workshop.   Mordheim used a very similar framework for a fantasy skirmish game back in 1999, where small bands of adventurers explored another ancient city for the same motivations– treasure and glory.  Mordheim was a big hit back in its day and (in my recollection) a pretty good small skirmish set– I have seen it adapted to many other settings besides fantasy, including a WW2 game I played in.  One of the selling points of Mordheim was the continuous campaign concept, which is also a feature of Frostgrave, and I suspect will contribute to Frostgrave having a longer shelf life.

Wizards, Schools, Spells and Warbands

The primary focus of Frostgrave is the individual Wizard character.  These are not the wimpy magic users of old D&D.   These are tough, hard-bitten specialists that live lives of adventure, plundering ruins, stealing loot, and they are not shy about reaching for some iron when the magic runs low.  Wizards study at ten schools of magic.  Schools of magic form complex relationships with each other– some being aligned, some being opposed, and some neutral.  This effects spells selection,and in a greater sense, how the game will play out tactically.

Chronomancy
Elementalism
Enchantment
Illusionist
Necromancy
Sigilism
Soothsaying
Summoning
Thaumaturge
Witchery
Table 1: Schools of Wizardy

Each school has a list of spells associated with it (See table 2) and he or she must choose EIGHT of them to start. Three must come from the Wizard’s OWN school of magic, one must come from each of the three ALIGNED schools of magic, and the last two must be from any of the five NEUTRAL schools of magic.  Each description of a school has a small table outlining alliances, neutral schools and opposing schools to make it clear.

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Table 2: Spell list per School

All of these spells have their strengths and weaknesses.  I think this is one of the detail areas that really lends a certain color to Frostgrave games.  Most of these spells are firmly within the “flavor” of their School and caster-type.  Illusionists rely on perception spells, such as Monstrous Form and Beauty.  Elementalists are kind of like magic style Green Lanterns, summoning big Elemental hammers and bolts and shields.  Chronomancy spells localize “something” and allow it to pass through time– causing decay, crumbling, and petrification, but also speeding someone up really well.  If you are at all versed in fantasy style roleplaying games, you know about all you need to know about the background to Frostgrave’s magic and wizardry.  There’s nothing particularly new about it to any avid fantasy geek.

The Wizard’s existence is summed up as a collection of statistics (called a stat line) describing how he performs.. none of that is particularly new to a roleplaying fan– Move, Fight, Shoot, Armour, Will and Health.  The higher the number, the better.  I’m from the “people move a certain way, swing a sword a certain way, fire shooty things in a certain way, defend in a certain way and run away when they don’t want to hang out any more” school of design.  In other words, all the actions defined by the “stat line” are, and should be, generic.  There just isn’t a need for that much detail there.  Frostgrave gets high marks from me for making all this stuff as simple as possible.

Warbands are another critical element to this game.  Wizards may have spells at the ready but it’s suicide to enter the ruins of Frostgrave alone.  A smart wizard recruits some cannon fodder erm, hirelings to accompany them into the ruins.  The wizard gets 500 gold crowns (GC) to hire muscle on a points/cost basis.  A must-have is an Apprentice Wizard for 200 GC.  He (or she) is a little insurance for long campaign games where the boss wizard might perish from wounds.  The Apprentice can rise up and take the boss’s place, and hire another apprentice!  There is a wide range of potential hirelings from the rulebook that can bulk up the wizard’s followers into a proper warband (see table 3).  In addition, the FRPG savvy Frostgrave player can probably add anything that seems to fit into this table, as long as it has a workable stat line associated with it.

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Table 3: Warband Hirelings (from the Frostgrave rulebook)

This is another area that adds color and customization to the game.  I could easily see slinking into Frostgrave, my Wizard being followed by his hireling thief, assassin, and infantrymen.

What do we do with all this stuff?

So you have some miniatures painted, and warbands assembled and some decent terrain put together?  What next?  You actually get into the mechanics of playing the game.  Don’t worry, they’re very easy to pick up.

  1. Initiative
  2. Action Phases in this order:
    1. Wizard
    2. Apprentice
    3. Soldier
    4. Creature

That’s pretty much the bulk of the game sequence.  Action Phases allow each active agent to perform two actions– moving, shooting, casting a spell, etc.  Combat is pretty simple skirmish stuff.  If you have played a skirmish miniatures wargame of ANY kind, including historical, all of this is fairly familiar to you.  Movement hampered or boosted by terrain, objects as cover, melee when bases come into contact, etc etc.  As I’ve alluded to above, I favor a KISS principle for running miniature skirmish games and Frostgrave is all about simplicity.  I’m not criticizing, here.  I think the familiarity that many experienced players will bring to this game is a big strength.  Frostgrave is like comfort food.. meatloaf rather than Pâté, to be sure, but it’s still a tasty meal.   There are some chrome elements of the game– critical hits and the like, and casting spells is a process that can be heavily modified by the tactical situation, but all of this is rather well defined and easy to understand.

Victory (kind of), or the long game

“Winning” is an open ended concept with Frostgrave.  You can score points by gathering treasure, but the real winner is the guy with troops (and most importantly, a living Wizard) who live to loot another day.  Frostgrave plays very well as a one-off 2-3 hour long skirmish game in a fantasy setting, but I think the game really shows its true colors when you start playing campaigns, which the rulebook concerns itself with from chapter 3 onward. There’s a certain satisfaction watching your characters grow with experience.  I haven’t seen that since.. since.. Mordheim, actually!   I have yet to play anything but a couple of quick skirmish games, myself, but the game left me wanting to continue my character from game to game.  If you want a good workable campaign system for fantasy combat, this is the game for you.

In Summary

I think Osprey Publishing has developed a great little game in Frostgrave.  There’s nothing extremely innovative about the game itself– if I could sum it up in a sentence, I’d say that Osprey has taken the fast melee sequence out of a D&D dungeon crawl and called it a skirmish game.  Before I get grief for that statement, understand that I think that’s a great thing.  Many people don’t have the time for long drawn out roleplaying sessions where they build the game narrative through repetitive trips to town to buy things, research things, interact with the local tavern and government.  Frostgrave assumes this is taking place off screen and focuses on the bare-knuckle brawl once the action starts.  I like this approach a lot– it’s about as RPG as I can get at my age and level of commitment.  The game is very well supported by Osprey and supporting material is already being published.  I just picked up Thaw of the Lich Lord and I believe other publications are about to drop or are scheduled for early 2016.   Northstar Figures, whom Osprey partnered with for the In Her Majesty’s Name game (and expansions), is producing quality 28mm figures to represent the primary wizard types, with apprentices, war band soldiers and some summoned creatures.  These are in the popular 28mm scale and can be easily supplemented with standard FRPG miniatures or GW Fantasy figures.

 Northstar Figures Frostgrave miniatures

I have a few of Northstar Figures wizard packs and will be painting them up shortly and blogging about the project, like one does.

In FROSTGRAVE, Osprey Publishing has found a system with legs that plays fast, can be taught quickly to novices, and is big and colorful with a wide-open fantasy milieu.  It’s already being played at conventions and I suspect it will grow in popularity as long as Osprey keeps supporting it.  Osprey should probably develop an outrider-style program for GMs who want to run Frostgrave at cons, as I could easily see this game gaining some traction in the upcoming year.  Well done, Osprey.

 

 

Small Wars; Ramshackle Games automobile combat add-ons and bits.


In today’s Small Wars we’re looking at the latest from Ramshackle Games, a great UK company that seems to specialize in items post-apocalyptic, but don’t pigeonhole them with that category as they have a wide variety of other items, mostly Fantasy, SF, Steampunk and (of course) Post Apocalyptic.  Mostly 28mm but they have their own 20mm line for adapting to car combat games that utilize matchbox and hot wheels cars, and that’s what I’m looking at today.  The “20mm Car Converstion Kit” came in the post yesterday and I have to say, you get a lot of value for your £20.00

Guns, rocket pods, etc. Sculpted pretty huge for the scale.

Included in the pack are: 8 drivers, in post-apocalyptic rig, driving.  2 turrets for larger weapons (you have a range to choose from), 2 manned gun shields with your choice of huge bulky weapon to insert.  2 bolt on rocket pods.  A wide variety of huge heavy weapons, somewhat oversized.  Kind of a strap on bolter effect.  most of these are sculpted with a flat end for sticking into a turret or manned gun shield, but those that don’t are sculpted with a flat bottom for easy mounting on diecast cars.  There are also 8 gunners in various poses, some sculpted firing a support weapon, some sculpted holding an assault weapon at high port.

Gunners and Drivers

The crew are interesting and very post-apoc in theme, but also very tiny compared to other 20mm lines.  The 20mm post-apoc cultists and gangers put out by Stan Johanssen are larger and somewhat bulkier than these drivers.  Here’s the thing though: Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars come in a variety of scales– and there are many cars that just don’t fit a regular 20mm figure well.  I think Ramshackle takes this into account– they aren’t huge but they do get very narrow in the hips which will help you fit them into tiny car cockpits.   So points for that!

Armor bits for various locations on a vehicle scaled roughly 1:72 or 20mm.

Hands down, this is my favorite part of this package.  The conversion parts come with 8 bolt on armor bits, sculpted to be metal slabs with rivets or corrugated metal of some sort.  There are also two big Rams roughly shaped like a bulldozer blade, and some “thing” that might be a rocket or a bolt on jet engine.  These parts are big, rough, rude and very very Post Apoc in theme!  I wish Ramshackle would just double up on these and maybe cut back on something else like the gunner figures.  I’m already figuring out what vehicles to use these with.

General comments: The guns are scaled way large for the figures, but that is the Ramshackle style.. absurdly large guns that look kind of like old WH40K bolters.  I have no issue with this as it adds a kind of comical element to the finished product, and what the heck, why not?  They are larger than Stan Johansen guns, about on par with Brigade Games’ Car conversion pack.  The drivers and gunners going to look tiny versus Stan Johansen driver and gunner figures, hands down.  However, Stan Jo’s drivers don’t fit every Matchbox and Hot Wheels either, so these might be more useful than you think.  The armor is worth the money in itself and I liked the rocket pods.  I wish we could get more armor, less gunners, but in any event, I liked what I got.  You’ll be fudging it a little bit to get it to work on every car conversion but thats pretty much the case with everything.  Kind of a mixed bag, but still very useful.  Recommended and a big thumbs up to Ramshackle Games for releasing some very useful bits indeed.

Small Wars: Leonardo and his tiny tanks


LEONARDO and “Leonardo Style” TANK, 15mm.co.uk

HOT102 Leonardo Da Vinci

HOT101 Da Vinci Tank

These arrived last night, about a week after ordering them overseas from http://www.15mm.co.uk/  15mm.co.uk is a figure distributor that focuses primarily on Science Fiction and Fantasy miniatures in the 15mm scale, which I am gaming in more and more these days.  I like a full battlefield.  Gavin Syme appears to be the alpha dog of that operation.

15mm.co.uk recently announced the release of some interesting figures.  A single man figure of the great inventor, Leonardo Da Vinci, both standing and riding on a pony (I’m guessing).  Concurrent with the Leonardo figure they released a 15mm scale tank based on one of the Great Builder’s most fascinating marginalia sketches:

Leonardo was and is famous for leaving enigmatic drawings like this all over the margins of his notebooks, which provides game designers and fiction writers with all kinds of ideas about armored warfare in a Renaissance age.  Sadly, there is no definitive proof that any of these more modern ideas were ever built.  That hasn’t stopped people envisioning it, however.  I have a 15mm Leonardo army that is pretty much all based for HOTT and painted up.. and suffers from a lack of opponents.   I have organ guns and hand gunners and even a glider.  The tanks were problematic.  I actually made one by using a Motts applesauce container (with a wood grain pattern), turned up side down and with craft wheels added on the bottom and a large bombard made from a craft wood bit.  The result looks pretty great, actually.. but NOTHING like the original drawing above.  I also tried buying a plastic kit, which looked pretty spiff but it is overwhelmingly large when used with 15mm forces.  Needless to say I was quite happy to see this advert from Gavin and company, and ordered a sample forthwith.

Some pictures.
  The tank comes in two pieces of cast resin, top half and bottom. The cast was mostly clean with minimal flashing which came off with an exacto knife. I didn’t have time to do much with it last night, except glue the top to the bottom with crazy glue. The two sides bonded together reasonably well, but in retrospect it wouldn’t hurt to sand both sides that glue together with fine sandpaper to facilitate the weld a little better. The bottom and top halves are totally flat out of the box and might slide on you. Sizewise, the tank seems smallish next to a 15mm figure but it is probably more accurate than many models I have tried in this scale.

Top View. Wish I had put something in to demonstrate scale.

Bottom half of Leonardo tank detail

The distinctive row of light bore cannons around the bottom of the tank are managed with some rudimentary cannon barrels that will be glued around the bottom in short order.

The Leonardo figure combination is of the Great Inventor standing and gesticulating with a drawing (tank blueprint?) in his left hand, as if he is displaying a handbill or trying to make an important point to either a fellow engineer or mercenary captain. I like this sculpt, it has personality. The accompanying riding figure is pretty much Leo riding on a very small horse or pony, giving off a somewhat placid feel.

Leonardo standing and riding.

Sizewise the Leo figure scales well with my Renaissance army, which is a combination of Minifigs, Essex and Rank and File. I think the Vexillia infantry might be a little too substantial but if you gave Leo a thick base he might look the right height.

Conclusions

This is a great addition to my 15mm Renaissance HOTT army. Leo will make a fine leader figure in either riding or standing incarnations. I’m going to keep my applesauce tank because of the heavy bombard. I’ve seen some representations of the classic Leonardo design with a larger caliber gun barrel (mostly in video games) but the tank by 15mm.co.uk is quite rightfully more “historically” accurate. So my applesauce tank will be the heavy siege gun that stays in the back field, lobbing shells, as my armor sweeps forward supporting the infantry. I plan to buy 3 more at least of the tank model, and I sincerely hope 15mm.co.uk plans on expanding the Leonardo Da Vinci line from this great beginning.

Small Wars: New Car Customization Parts from Brigade Games, a review


Awesome new ROAD WARRIOR STYLE FUN

I have to hand it to Lon at Brigade Games, he has an eye for trends.  The release of the MAD MAX: FURY ROAD movie at the start of the Summer was bound to create at least a mini-wavelet of interest in Road Warrior style car chase games in the hobby, and companies like Stan Johansen Miniatures and Aberrant Games definitely took advantage of the trend with their own line of existing car customization parts and vehicles for post-apocalypse car combat miniature games in 20mm scale (which more or less matches up with Hot Wheels and Matchbox).   Lon maintains his own line of miniatures through Brigade Games and usually produces them in support of some game system he is selling.   It was not a huge surprise, therefore, to see that Brigade Games is making their own line of car conversion parts, competing with Stan Johansen and other manufacturers.

First Sprue: yokes for weapons in the foreground, with a ram plate and some rockets in the rear. Might require some vehicle customization and a Dremel to make them fit. Still, a great idea in the first package.

My first impression, about selection, is very positive.  Lon is carrying a wide range of add on parts.  I bought about four sprues at 3.50 for weapons and armor and 1.50 for the yokes (pictured above).

Here is the range so far, with the bold test representing my first purchase.

  • Complete Set (1 of each option) [+$40.00]
  • 3 Machine-guns – .50cal style w/ammo boxes [+$3.50]
  • 3 Vulcan machine-guns – mini-gun style w/ammo drums [+$3.50]
  • 4 Rockets and 1 oil sprayer [+$3.50]
  • 1 Large turret and 2 small turrets [+$3.50]
  • 2 Flamethrowers and 1 arrow-gun (or micro-missile launcher) [+$3.50]
  • 1 Harpoon gun, 1 sonic gun, 1 mine dropper, and 1 laser gun [+$4.00]
  • supercharged car sprue -stowage, supercharger, front end, exhausts [+$3.50]
  • 6 yokes – these fit any weapon. [+$1.50]
  • 2 rear armor plates and 2 light ram plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 heavy ram plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 2 windscreens, pair of side windows, 2 side plates [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 large side plates [+$3.50]
  • 2 Stowage [+$2.00]
  • 2 pairs of exhausts and supercharger [+$3.50]
  • Armor sprue – 4 wheel armor plates and 1 hood/roof armor plate [+$3.50]

Harpoon Gun (placed but not mounted) Stowage pack in the back, minigun next to car.

How are we doing with scale?  Well, the weapons definitely fit with vehicles in the HO/Matchbox/Hot Wheels scale range.  They are rather LARGE compared to similar Stan Johansen items so you may need to use your judgement in how you deploy a mix of both.  The miniguns and machine guns seemed large to me, but still workable.  The other more esoteric weapons.. well, who cares what size they are as long as they look good?  It’s the apocalypse, a lot of this stuff is made in an ad-hoc fashion, right?  So in general, with maybe one or two size hogs, I’d use anything in this line on my own White Line Fever games.  And I plan to.  If you look at picture 2 above, you’ll see how large the minigun and harpoon gun seem to be, but if you think about it, what are the standards for a harpoon gun?  Who knows how large it’s “supposed to be?”

Dart gun (yay!) two flame throwers, a laser, a sonic weapon, and a mine dropper in frame with a sample post apocalyptic car (Back to the Future DeLorean)

What about selection?  This is the great strength of this range of parts.  There are some new weapons here (the dart gun and sonic weapon, for instance) and ones that I have imagined but didn’t have a model for (like the laser and mine dropper).  I’m very impressed with the choices.  Now I wish I had ordered more.

Detail (on laser, left, sonic weapon, center, and mine dropper, right)

What about quality of cast?  No problems here.  See the close up on the picture above of the Laser, sonic weapon and mine dropper.  The casting is sharp and though it had a few “tin whiskers” there was nothing really to complain about.  A very good job on detailing, when you consider this is mostly fictional gear we’re describing.

Summary: I really have to commend Brigade Games for this new offering.  These parts work for the games I’m running right now, will be relatively easy to add on to the car models I’m using, and could probably ALSO work for 15mm and even 28mm with some work.  They would be huge for 15mm and smallish for 28mm, but much of that can be tricked with some effort.  It’s not all a bed of roses..the ram plates will require drilling with the Dremel and some heavy epoxy to fit on the (mostly metal) Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars I use, so that will be some effort.  In general, however, I love this new series of customization parts and I encourage BG to add to the line.

Lon? You know what this universe needs?  Driver figures that will fit in open top convertible type vehicles, as well as weapon operators.  Scaled to 20mm. Just a suggestion.

Game Camp 2015 Day 4 (Thursday): “Ride that Fury Road Part 2”


Gaming Camp 2015, Thursday.

Because of the large pile up being generated right in front of the Trading Post on the end of Wednesday, the consensus was to run Ride that Fury Road for another day and take the X-Wing Miniatures Tournament off the agenda. The game continued at the break point Wednesday night, and we left it set up.

Skool Zout trying to smash through the pile up ahead; two CaptureGangers are directly ahead, and then a big snarl up of several different vehicles.

This happens a lot at Game Camp; in fact, I encourage the kids to set the schedule after a certain point.

White Line Fever was a system the kids picked up on easily and enjoyed quite a bit. Let’s face it; there’s not a lot of heavy calculations going on in a game like this. Decisions boil down to “do I go off road and risk spinning out into a toxic goo pit on terrible terrain or stay ON the road and deal with this terrible pile up in front of me?”

Quite a cha-cha-cha with cars going on. Capture Gangers in foreground, then Blinded with Science, then Git Some, Big Red the Capture Ganger, Hellcab (on fire), the Sensimilia Express, the Merc, and Herbie the Hate Bug farther out.

As kids do in all the games I run, there was the rush to “be cool” (ally with each other while it was expedient) to get to the perceived goal (the donut shop).

Bad luck for the Hell Cab.

As also happens a lot in my games, there was a drive to build a narrative within the game universe created. I’m happy to do that and I helped the process along by building factions in the vehicle set (capture gangers, sand-brothers, Scooter Jocks, Militia Men, Street Punks). This added to the fun but did cause incessant delay around the Trading post as every player felt obliged to see what he could trade there instead of smashing cars. When one kid set up a road block and started charging for passage, things got a little ridiculous. Of course, this was the same kid who traded Daphne for a Recoiless Rifle the day before, so go figure!

Once past the Trading Posts, the Scooter Jocks attacked the truck and supporting vehicles in wave after wave. They were surprisingly easy to kill– TINY doesn’t live long versus MEGA in a ramming attempt, so I just had the truck run over bikes like they were speed bumps. Bikers did manage to board with one Scooter Jock who fought it out on top of the Tanker with the soul remaining Truck Support crew.

Like Gnats annoying a grizzly…

The roadblock caught the attention of the Road Militia.. who consider themselves to be the protector of the highway and charged with keeping it clear. They charged up the road, smashing through annoying scooter jocks and waving nervously at the brothers of the Circle (the Donut Shop) who are creepy enough to creep them out.

Lots of stuff happened in succession– the Sushi Truck who had been collecting “meat” for sushi from the many bodies on the road got shot at, then raised a white flag to the militia. The Hate Bug lost its driver but continued as a semi-sentinent vehicle with the corpse of its driver behind the wheel. They Mystery Machine came under heavy fire and thus we encounter the death of Velma Dinkley.

Ruh ROH! Fallen to a “Driver deader than Fried Chicken” result

Some lucky? players got to the Brothers of the Circle Compound (the Donut shoppe), but managed to create quite a lot of ill will…

Uh oh, the Lone Wanderer best beat feet!

We didn’t get much past this point and it was time to call it. A great Game was had by all.

For more pictures click here

Small Wars: Road Warrior/White Line Fever– The Biker Gangs show up


I’ve promised to post some pictures of the Motorcycle Gang I’ve built up via selected purchases over the last 6 months.  Unless inspiration hits me, this will probably the last vehicle pictures posted before HISTORICON.

This is a mix of Stan Johanesen Biker Gang (Stan’s website is referred to many times in Road Warrior posts) and Ramshackle Games 20mm Biker Gangs, which is a recent discovery.  The Ramshackle biker gangs are definitely smaller than the Stan Johansen figures (as you can see easily in the photograph above– the Ramshackle items have tan bases).   So the Ramshackle Games stuff are more like the Mini-bikes of Minor Troublemaking than the Harleys of Death.    I don’t care; they look pretty good, just can’t really scale to the StanJo stuff.  They have one great benefit: affordability.  I ordered a giant biker gang in resin, in assorted poses, for a very affordable price.  I’m not complaining.

Here are a lot of Ramshackle Games 20mm bikes, and a couple of Aberrant games Warlands motorcycles (round brown bases, plus the quad in the bottom right).  The rest are StanJo Biker Gang figures.

Last but not least, the Aberrant Games’ Warland GyroCopter (left) plus some Ramshackle 20mm bikes and StanJo figures in foreground.

I like the look of these figures and I’m not overly concerned about the scaling if they are at least reasonably close.  They won’t really all be bunched up together in the course of a game, anyway.