Tuesday 18 September 2012

Clear Horizon (Part One) - Where It Came From

Attention dropship passengers!

Today we bring you something a little different.

For a while now, I've been following the posts on the excellent blog "Clear Horizon"done by a gent named Harold and featuring the build up, terrain, miniatures and paint work of he and his gaming buddy as they build a 15mm scifi version of the Shadowrun universe. It's really impressive and the level of detail and the tight, focused vision it represents is very inspiring, so much so that I asked Harold if he would be kind enough to author a guest feature describing where it came from, how it came together and what he hopes to achieve with it.

This isn't intended to replace his blog posts, but really was more of an attempt to gather together the thoughts and creative input and commentary of someone who is really doing a bang-up job of show-casing what the 15mm scifi hobby is all about. What I got from him was a detailed, even illustrated piece of work that was so big, I'll be splitting it into two parts, just to do it justice.

Sooooo, anyhow, let's do this thing!


I’ve been gaming since I was 8 years old.  I remember it well; I was in the B.Dalton book store in the mall and saw the boxed Battletech set. I wanted that set for months until my mother finally bought it for me.  I poured over everything in the box set, the miniatures, the rules, the backgrounds, and I found every piece of fiction to expand the Battletech universe for me that I could.

I eventually decided the starter miniatures were not nearly enough, and I had a new goal.  I called a couple of hobby stores in my area until I found one, The Game Zone, which carried Battletech miniatures. I ended up spending much of my time there, gaming, painting, etc.

I have such fond memories that while I haven’t played Battletech in years, I still had to get the 25th anniversary set when it was released. 

While I don’t game Battletech, I’m quite active as these days my scale of choice is 15mm, although I have the odd 10mm, 6mm, and, yes, even 28mm sitting around.  This hobby has provided much enjoyment and brought me some of my best friends and even at times employment (I was a “Red shirt” at GW for several summers and then a “Black shirt” for a year).  My most recent project has been to build up some armies and an area to fight on for the Gruntz rule set. I hope you find this article informative and not too rambling as I’ll be going over my thought processes, what I felt I did right, and what I ended up re-doing because I couldn’t make up my mind!

Rule Selection
Why did I choose Gruntz?  Well, to be fair it wasn’t the first choice I had.  I had been playing Strange Aeons, Mordheim, and 5150.  I had also picked up the new hard-cover Tomorrow’s War which I enjoy reading through, but I found a little too dense for me.

I generally tend to gravitate towards “Necromunda”-type games. I like being able to identify closely with the character my miniatures represent.  I had even spent some time painting up quite a few character pieces in 15mm for a Shadowrun/5150 game I was gearing up for. 

Gruntz is a great match for me for a couple of reasons:  It’s a fairly straightforward system with a little bit of “crunch” to it and units are easy to understand and feel unique without contradictory special rules and confusion.

The unit builders are great since anything that catches my eye can easily be translated via profile cards into a working unit that I can field.  I really like that.  Of course I can always use proxies and such for other systems, but I like how much depth there are in the “unit builders”.

So, I went from small-scale gang skirmish to needing a larger force. I wanted artillery strikes and tanks!

The bug had bitten me!

I think it was 12 feet tall and had acid for blood.  Oh, and it had about 600 buddies. I needed an army!

Miniature Selection
Through my “Shiny object” syndrome I actually had quite a few military forces in 15mm. Federal Army forces from Khurasan Miniatures, NAC from Ground Zero Games, Arc Fleet from Critical Mass Games, and several other (including some really cool aliens from Micropanzer).  My regular opponent decided to go with heavy vac-suited Khurasan miniatures exterminators and to focus on mechs.  This gave me a counterpoint to work with.

I had painted up my Arc fleet troopers in a bright yellow already, so I decided to go for something new.  The NAC had always seemed really cool to me, but I didn’t really have a clear vision of what colors to paint them and I just had a couple of squads.

Only troops does not an army make!  I needed vehicles.  I had started reading Hammer’s Slammers (still getting through the second volume, good stuff!) and needed some GEV (ground-effect-vehicles) (or Hover tanks for dolts like me who had no idea what GEV stood for) tanks.  I placed an order and picked up some more rifle squads, some command troops and a couple of the Gauntlet open-topped vehicles as “combat cars”.  I also picked up two Merka tanks from Rebel Minis since I needed some bigger firepower to take out my opponents growing mech-based force.

Then the unexpected happened.  Khurasan Miniatures did a limited super-secret release of a VTOL called the Kestrel.  I ordered two of them. 

This transformed my mechanized cityfighting force into a quick-strike air mobile contingent.  I modeled them after the 160th SOAR.   I just recently added two converted Halo Micro-Ops Falcons into the fray.  The Kestrels are my “Littlebirds” and the Falcons are the “Blackhawks.”


So, that conclude the first installment of the Clear Horizon feature. I think you can already see that this project, like any good miniatures project, is part inspiration, part shopping around to find the right stuff, and a big part of it is just serendipity!

Tune in soon for part two where we'll get into paint schemes and terrain choices.

Thanks Harold and thanks to all you DH passengers. We hope you all enjoyed this, one of our first guest features, and look forward to bringing you more of this sort in the future.



  1. Clear Horizon is definitely one to watch. This post looks pretty messed up to me though...everything is clipped and it's mostly big white boxes. I can't imagine that was the intention...

  2. Sorry folks. Somewhere in Bloggerland something went horribly wrong between writing, saving, and then posting.


  3. Phenomenal! Great read. Make me want to rush home and start hitting my 15mm stash even harder now.

  4. Thanks guys! I haven't written for fun in a long time, so it was a nice change of pace... glad it was well received!

  5. Nice read. It's always interesting to see how others have progressed in(to) the hobby.

  6. A nice post with some well painted minis