Likewise direct tactical orders such as "We gotta take that compound" will be replaced by constantly updating markers and symbols on a trooper's helmet display.
You may think that men in whatever guise, in the tension of a firefight will always look for a leader - maybe, but what about cloned or 'chipped' warriors of the future planets? Will they be 'programmed' for each fight?
James Cameron's ALIENS gave us a thought provoking study of the dilemma of future command. Not only did we have the larger than life Sand of Iwo Jima character in Apone, it also introduced us to Gorman, a platoon leader of the electronic age who lead from the...err, van.
Despite the pivotal role on the modern battlefield and in many wargame rules, dedicated leader figures can be hard to come by in 15mm Sci Fi. I'm still find myself painting a stripe or different coloured helmet/shoulder pad on grunts to denote them as leaders. OK that's fine for the squads but what about the platoon leader?
Well, where there's no separate platoon commander figure that's 'different' to the squad leaders, you are essentially being handed the role of Gorman. Sitting in your armoured VW camper, watching the screens and keeping an eye on Bid TV all at the same time. That's right, "38, simulated". Next time you look at those figures, before you press "Buy" just remember "38, simulated".
Still, you want those minis, you must have those minis. You've expressed "Wow" and "Awesome" on every forum going. The shiny, the precious MUST BE YOURS........
OK, we can paint a bigger stripe, give our heroic leader a bigger shoulder pad, but let's think 'outside the pack' in order to turn that fireteam plus the rest of a bag of Ebay fodder into a worthwhile platoon with a recognisable and identifiable command structure.
As our main focus is Sci Fi, I'm going to turn to HALO here. Fans of the original HALO game will remember that Masterchief is guided, aided and ultimately contested by the A.I. 343 Guilty Spark, also known as the "Oracle". Now imagine that Guilty Spark was a Command Drone. That's right. We looked at the potential for drones, bots and UAVs replacing men carrying support weapons in my earlier post about SAWs, why can't we therefore put Gorman in a drone.
Khurasan 15mm Sci Fi Control Battalion
Sure nice drone you got there boy!
Sure nice drone you got there boy!
Within a drone he has greater mobility on the battlefield, can exert his command presence and provide timely and encouraging firepower support to the grunts on the ground. Guilty Spark was able to zap the flood with lasers, so there's no reason why we can't give our Gorman drone a limited support and self protection ability. Even give each squad its' own Apone drone! So the Command Drone is shot down? No worries, the command data and comms passes to another drone in the unit or a replacement Command Drone whizzes it's way up to the battlefront.
Cortana. Well, we'll get to Cortana. Artificial Intelligence plays a key role within the HALO 'verse and the fiction is worth reading to take a step into the future and see a wonderful visualisation of A.I. in use. Halo: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten introduces us to the A.I. character Mack. And believe me, he is all character. Mack's avatar, his holographic presence is a Mexican bandito.
So your command or A.I,. function can be expressed as an iridescent blue, green, red character avatar - a 10-15mm figure, 20mm even, maybe a typical command figure, but also maybe a cowboy, a pirate, a Patton, a hero of the Federation.
Maybe, just maybe, these 'command avatars' will also be used for morale, accompanying the men into action - maybe individual avatars for each soldier, maybe a mascot avatar for squad or platoon - again being in the key places, directing, exhorting, cajoling or comforting as the situation warrants.
Cortana is their leader, their commissar, their confident, their reason.... This is a great role for some of Critical Mass Games' Vadorian Assassins.
And finally in this brief look at alternative 15mm Sci Fi command figures, we turn to Star Wars. In the later episodes we see Clone commanders appearing as light blue holographic images in front of other commanders. So, let's take an ordinary kneeling trooper figure - give him that stripey thing to denote him as leader and place a 15mm.co.uk 6mm HOF command or grunt figure at his feet - again panted as a holographic image so it appears that he's communicating with higher command or one of his troopers.
HOF 6mm Command Sprue
Hope you enjoyed this quick look at how we can turn necessity into opportunity to leave behind the mental shackles of the Grav Panzer, plasma AK and BFG, to instead really push the envelope of Sci Fi in miniature.