Friday 30 December 2011

The Christmas War - Laurentian Defense Forces

I envision the Laurentians to be a fairly high-tech army.  Technology and automation play a pretty significant role in their background, and I wanted to reflect this on the battlefield.  One army stood apart from the others on my display shelf - Rebel Minis Droptroopers with CAT 'bots as support weapons.

I never did get around to finding vehicles for this force.  But I have plenty of infantry and CATs to portray the defenders.

Laurentian Border Outpost
The only thing missing was some elite troopers to use in the second scenario.  I thought about just painting more Drop Troopers in a different color (Spartan red or blue?), but this army needs a bit more diversity.  And I like power armor.  So I tried my "300 Second Spartan" scheme on a pack of the new-sculpt Ground Zero Games NAC Powered Armor with Hand Weapons.

Exactly what I wanted!  These sculpts works surprisingly well with the Halo-inspired Rebel Drop Troopers. And the Y-rack mini launchers are similar to the rockets found on the Rebel CATs.  The new NAC power armor are actually fairly small compared to most infantry out there - especially small compared to similar power armor from Khurasan or Kremlin.  But the Rebel Droptroopers are also a bit on the small size, so they work extremely well together.

I just need to finish a few terrain pieces for Scenarios 1 and 2 and this force is ready for The Christmas War.  And since I'm going to use FUBAR to play the first couple scenarios, here are my unit stats for the Laurentian Defense Forces:


Tuesday 27 December 2011

Christmas War - The Invasion of Laurentia

Here's the background I've written for my personal version of The Christmas War.  All campaign participants are welcome to steal any piece of this for your own games, or use the whole thing if you like!  

Avalonia was an early Earth colony, found in 2112 AD.  Two separate colonies were establisehd on Avalonia: Cimmeria in the south and Laurentia in the north.  Cimmeria became the most populous of the two colony-states: about seven million colonists within the first few generations.  Laurentia was less than half of that size, but its settlers brought significant intellectual and technological advantages compared to the Cimmerians.  Laurentia carefully established their early settlements where they could best utilize their own resources.  Cimmeria simply tried to shelter its people as best it could, relying on Laurentia for assistance.

Tensions between the Laurentia and Cimmeria were inevitable.  Things took a turn for the worse when Cimmerian territory experienced a significant temperature increase.  Their soil had already been badly damaged by poor agricultural conservation practices, but the climate change significantly degraded their ability to grow crops and raise livestock.  Cimmeria’s food production now consisted mostly of rice products and a poor-tasting fish that seemed to be a close relative of Earth’s sardine.  It had effectively become a poverty-stricken nation, and its people were suffering greatly.

Laurentia, comparatively, had become a paradise.  They had adapted numerous grasses, vegetables, and grains to Avalonia’s red soil, and the climate was favorable for all kinds of livestock.  They also discovered enough petroleums, natural gasses, metals, and minerals to last for many future generations.  Laurentia’s communities developed rapidly, and their level of industrial and agricultural automation granted its people more than enough time for recreation and higher education.

Laurentia eventually ceased exports.  They felt they had provided Cimmeria every opportunity to adapt into a self-sufficient society, which Cimmeria squandered in favor of more “handouts.”  Laurentia relocated the majority of their military installations to the border with Cimmeria.  Cimmeria, using the only resources they had available (people and industry), had significantly increased the size of their military over the past generation.

On the eve of their hundredth Christmas, Laurentia’s administration invited Cimmeria’s leaders to a summit.  They were prepared to offer them one last chance to send their agricultural leaders into Laurentia for training.  While Laurentia’s administration was giving the Cimmerian delgation a tour of their government facilities, the Cimmerians noticed how empty the offices and hallways seemed.  A Laurentian aide made the mistake of saying that not only had most government employees taken vacation to see their families, but most of their military had done the same.  This was what the Cimmerians were waiting to hear.  One of the Cimmerians reached into his pocket and clicked his pen three times.  The microtransmitter inside the pen sent the signal to their military forces - launch the attack!

Coming soon: the Defenders of Laurentia


Wednesday 21 December 2011

The Christmas War: A 15mm Sci-Fi Campaign

The Christmas War  

Dropship editor Eli's wrote this 'Tis The Season post over at I See Lead People, and it inspired me to write a Christmas-themed campaign.  This is a generic outline that can be played with any forces or rulesets you have available.  In terms of army sizes, Scenarios One and Two should be whatever you consider a "typical" game force.  It should be played with your battle rules of choice: Gruntz, Tomorrow's War, 5150: Star Army, FUBAR, USE ME, etc.  Scenario Three changes it up by running just a handful of models on each side - something like Blasters & Bulkheads, In The Emperor's Name, Flying Lead, etc.  Scenario Four is a no-holds-barred slugfest - again, choose any battle rules you like.

BACKGROUND. They waited patiently, biding their time, observing all of their enemy's deployment patterns.  It seemed so obvious when that weakness was found.  Most of the enemy's troops take their leave and visit their families at Christmas.  This laughable ancient Earth tradition will be their undoing - it will be days before they can mount a counter-offensive.  It is time to strike!

SETTING.  Future Earth nations or early space colonies.  A distant world with several independent colony-states would be ideal - I personally game science fiction to avoid using real-world nations and armies.

FORCES.  Two distinct factions.  The defenders are badly undermanned at the start of hostilities, while the attacker is ready for a prolonged campaign.  The defender will occasionally be able to muster a dropship of special operations troops in power armor, but their primary forces won't be fully available until the late stages of the campaign.

SCENARIO ONE: Breakthrough.  The aggressors' campaign begins by punching through a border outpost.  Defenders are deployed in defensive positions, roughly halfway between table edges.  If the defenders can hold out for five rounds, they gain a Quick Response Force (elite unit with transport) which can be deployed any time during Scenario Two.  If the aggressors can get their units off the table edge opposite their deployment zone before the fifth round, they automatically gain first-turn initiative in Scenario Two.

SCENARIO TWO: Consolidation.  The aggressors must seize a key military command center, power plant, or transportation hub to maintain their assault.  The defenders are desperately holding on to every last bit of ground they can, while the High Command attempts to muster their badly fragmented army into a cohesive fighting force.  The aggressors will take no more than 25% casualties before they fall back and regroup with their man body (off-table).  The defenders, although their numbers are fewer, will hold out to 50% before surrendering such a key location.

SCENARIO THREE: Assassination.  This will be a small skirmish game instead of a large battle.  The winner of Scenario Two has one elite team of commandos.  The loser becomes the defender of a rear-echelon command center.  A key leader must be captured or taken out - his strategic genius is the only thing giving his side any advantage in this conflict.  Successful assassination will give the target's side a 25% loss of forces at the start of the next conflict.  A failed assassination will give the target's side a number of free re-rolls, to be used at any time in the next game.

SCENARIO FOUR: Breaking Point.  A big battle, representing the last major offensive of the Christmas War.  The winner of Scenario Three has the finally has the loser's side on the run - but every combat-ready unit is needed to press the advantage.  When the dust settles, one side will have no choice but to surender to the other.  This scenario's outcome will determine which side will write the history books, and which side's children will be ashamed to read them.

*     *     *     *     *

So, loyal Dropship passengers... we're challenging you to play this campaign with us in the coming weeks.  Assemble your forces, grab an opponent (a family member, a friend, yourself, that giant candy cane you find in your stocking - whatever you got!) and play out the scenarios.  If you choose to participate, just use Christmas War somewhere in the title of your posts.  Remember to include a little background about who is the aggressor, who is the defender, and why the invasion took place.  We'll be watching your blogs and TMP posts for your own interpretations of the Christmas War.  It would be great if we could get enough participants to declare one side (aggressors or defenders) the global victor!

And of course - this is just a generic framework.  Modify it to whatever suits your collections and playing styles.  Don't want to play with platoon- or company-sized armies?  Don't!  This could easily be played with nothing but skirmishes between rival gangs.  Or it could be played with insurgent forces against the army that has occupied their homeland for the last few years.  It could even be played as an alien invasion - maybe the Little Green Men had been watching our satellite TV broadcasts and determined that Christmas would be the perfect time to land their flying saucers.  Have fun with it!


Tuesday 20 December 2011

Critical Mass Games releases Gruntz Imperator Mecha

The Gruntz Imperator Mecha, (previewed earlier this year) is now available from Critical Mass Games!

Standing over 80mm tall, this is one of the biggest and most heavily-armed mecha ever designed specifically for 15mm gaming.  These would be a great centerpiece for any existing army, escorting mechanized infantry platoons and destroying enemy super-heavy tanks.  Or you could run a platoon of these on their own - stomping around urban battlefields and slaughtering entire squadrons of Rebel Minis HAMRs or Critical Mass Protolene Walkers.  If you want to see some more pictures of this monster, check out Robin Fitton's assembly log here and a finished gallery here.

Click HERE to buy them - £20.00 each or FOUR for £60.00.


Monday 19 December 2011

15mm Sci Fi Conversions

I recently discovered I was one figure short of my preferred TO&E for Ground Zero Games NAC army, so rather than buying a new pack of figures, I decided to try and convert some figures I had lying around to create what I wanted. I've read that it's harder to convert 15mm figures than 28mm figures and, having collected and converted both I can assure you this is not true. 15mm figures can be challenging to convert because they are smaller but, because they are smaller, it can be a lot easier to get good results.

If you are going to try converting 15mm miniatures, and do so without maiming yourself and losing the odd finger, I recommend you get yourself some of the tools such as those pictured above. The tools generally required are:
  • A cutting mat
  • A (sharp) craft knife
  • A small pin vice (with a drill bit slightly larger than the wire used for pinning)
  • A files
  • Modelling files
  • A set of wire cutters (or similar)
  • Superglue
  • Green stuff
  • A sculpting tool for green stuff (not pictured)
  • A small saw blade for your knife (not pictured)
  • Paperclips of some reasonably thick wire

    I started off by identifying two unused figures. These were from GZG's SG15- A17 NAC Standing Gunners and SG15-A18 NAC Seated Troopers. With an idea of what I wanted to achieve, I started with brutal act of man-on-miniature violence, by cutting them each in half with the wire cutters (you can just as easily use a small saw blade suitable for cutting soft metal). You can see from the picture below that this act was carefully premeditated so as to preserve as much of the half of each miniature I wanted to keep as possible.

    The remains the dismembered miniatures where then carefully filed down so as to facilitate the joining of the two halves. A knife was also used to remove some larger chunks and reduce the time spent filing (sorry, I forgot to take a picture at this point). Once I was happy with the fit, I then used the pin vice to drill a hole in each figure half. To do this I carefully selected a drill bit slightly larger than the thickness of the paper clip to give space for glue. I then cut a length of paperclip to use as a pin (the safest way to do this is to cut it under a sheet of newspaper as it tends to be 'pinged' across the room). I always make sure it's the right length before gluing. I then glued the pin in to one half and then the other half of the pin and both halves together. The red line below illustrates where the pin is connecting the two halves.

    Anyone who's put together a large metal miniature will know that 'pinning' provides a far stronger join than simply gluing. I also drilled holes in the feet of the figure to insert pins to help give my wee guy a stable platform to stand on as superglue and his little feet would not be enough to keep him attached to a base.

    I secured the miniature to his base with the aid of a small rectangular section of white plastic through which the pins were inserted. This helps make him the same hight as my other NAC as they come on bases. I then used green stuff and a sculpting tool to create a new left arm for the figure and fill some of the roughness of the joint. My skills with green stuff are by no means expert, but the only way to learn and get better at it is to keep doing it! Now all he needs is some material to texture his base and and undercoat and he's ready for painting. Now who said 15mm conversion was difficult? This took just 2 hours, excluding drying time.

    We'll have more posts looking at converting 15mm sci fi figures and vehicles in the coming months!

    Sunday 18 December 2011

    Khurasan Miniatures: Neptune TacMech

    Where orbital fire support can't reach, heavy fire support for the highly mobile, elite Federal Navy SPAR special-ops teams comes in the guise of the Neptune Tactical (Tac)Mech. Dropship Horizon can exclusively lift the cover on this exciting new Mecha that will be smashing it's way into 2012.

    Khurasan Miniatures 15mm Sci Fi
    Federal Navy Nepture TacMech

    The Neptune is heavily armed, mounting shoulder weapons-pods in addition to carrying the plasma rifle.  The pods can be easily swapped depending upon mission requirements. Pod options include anti-personnel rockets, tank-killing anti-material torpedos, or a general purpose energy cannon.

    But the key to its success, is its ability to pick its way through difficult terrain and manipulate large objects, moving obstacles out of the way, smashing down barricades or through internal bulkheads and pressure seals to allow the SPAR team to gain it's objective.

    The Navy deploys the TacMech from the Poseidon Stealth Lander and can retrieve it the same way.  Whilst the TacMech was designed for special ops, its considerable battlefield power makes it heavily in demand in conventional fights as well. The Neptune occasionally assists Corporate Marine recon operations, as the Federal Marines are accustomed to fighting in close co-operation with the Navy.

    Notice the ladder and access hatch 
    on the back of right-hand image

    The Neptune TacMech from Khurasan Miniatures will be available in early 2012. The model comes with two leg choices and available with either free hands or plasma rifle, and will have three shoulder mount options as indicated above. Fully assembled the Mech will stand approximately 55mm tall.

    This is a mean tin hombre to support some equally mean dudes in the Federal Navy SPAR Teams. Hooyah!


    Thursday 15 December 2011

    Christmas Sale at Rebel Minis

    With Christmas around the corner, those naughty miniature manufacturers are all announcing sales to part us from our hard earned cash, as if resisting temptation wasn't hard enough!

    Rebel Minis have announced that from now until December 31st, everything on the site is 20% off! If you want to take advantage of this offer you need to use code rebel2011 when checking out to get the discount. For further information check out the Rebel website and blog.

    Wednesday 14 December 2011

    Blasters & Bulkheads Part Four - The Review

    Now that we've had some time to play a few games of Blasters & Bulkheads, it seems like it's time to give the book a detailed review.  Hopefully this will help anyone who hasn't made up their mind whether or not to buy this game.  I ran these points by Scott Pyle last week, and he gave me some very quick feedback and helped clarify a few design elements for me.  I've included his comments in the relevant sections below.

    What works well
    • Character creation is quite a bit of fun.  There's a good selection of background an traits, each one adding little wrinkles to the gameplay.
    • It doesn't take long to pick up the core mechanics.  There are lots of special rules, but they only tweak the handful of core rules.  
    • The fate dice are an amazing feature... they can really make a difference at times when you should be completely outmatched.  
    • The vehicle rules are surprisingly robust for a game this size.  Usually these are ignored in skirmish games, or bolted on in a way that doesn't really work with the character-vs-character nature.  But they seem to work extremely well in this game.  
    • The post-battle section is equally robust.  You'll very quickly see your characters develop their own personalities, strengths, and weaknesses.  And you get chances to improve them, without going completely over-the-top with upgrades and levels.  

    What should to be tweaked
    • A quick reference sheet of some kind would be VERY helpful.  I know I'm only two games in, but it seems impossible to play this game without a great deal of flipping pages.  Scott told me this is something they could easily create in the future.
    • Having separate range bands for every 10cm doesn't help with the page-flipping.  I think this could have been simplified to fewer increments at 15cm each, but I'll confess that I'm not a fan of range bands in general.  Scott said the feedback has pretty much been that way - people either love or hate them.
    • There needs to be a few more alien archetypes in this book.  Some alien figures in my collection would be easy to make (pick a human and give them heightened sense for a Khurasan Felid, etc.).  But how do you represent something fast-moving like a Critical Mass Astagar?  Scott pointed out there are rules for developing custom races.  He also said that a few more races and occupations would be great fodder for a future supplement, so that's something to look forward to!
    • The standard movement value (6cm for humans) feels too short.  Essence Warriors aren't able to get into energy blade range for at least three rounds.  I'm going to modify it by using Ganesha Games-style movement (front of base to back of base).  Scott suggested trading fate dice for additional movement as another option.
    • An FAQ will definitely need to be published.  There are a few situations I ran into that weren't addressed, at least not in a way that was easy to find mid-game.

    What simply doesn't work
    • I'm afraid this game simply isn't suited to solo play, at least in its current form.  The greatest weakness to solo gaming is actually the game's strength - the fate dice.  You only have so many you can use in a turn.  I found it was easy to favor certain characters over others by having one use all his fate dice and another "save his for later."  This is definitely a game to play with your friends/RPG group!

    This all seems very familiar...

    And just to get my biggest gripe out of the way... When you read the book's description and first few pages, you get the feeling that this game was designed to support any kind of space opera you could imagine.  A bit later and you start thinking the designers had a bit of a Star Wars bias.  Then you read a bit further... and the Star Wars analogs become completely overwhelming.

    It's especially noticeable in the printer friendly version, which replaces the color photos with several quotes from notable characters.  Around half of these quotes are Obi-Wan Kenobi from the original film, just with a few words rephrased.  Two or three of those?  Sure, no problem, a great mood setter.  But so many of them?  Where are the quotes from Bad Reynolds, Captain of the smuggling ship Glow Worm?  Or a one-liner from Commander Spacebuck, hotshot fighter pilot aboard the Warstar Galacticus?  Seeing Star Wars quotes all over the book leads me to believe that it's only designed to emulate one possible universe, at least on a cosmetic level.

    Scott assured me this wasn't the case.  They really did intend for B&B to cover a wide variety of universes.  The overwhelming Star Wars feel wasn't intended.  Why are so many of us getting this feeling from a first impression?  Well, Star Wars is the most pervasive space opera in our culture.  It's no coincidence that we see Star Wars first, even when a certain element could have been inspired by a different work.

    The actual rules allow for far more flexibility (example: the Cyborg rules didn't remind me of any specific characters from Star Wars).  You certainly CAN create forces without any "Essence" Warriors" (Jedi).  But it seems you're only using 75% of the game's potential if you ignore that section.  Essence powers aren't an appendix - they are definitely a core mechanic of the game

    But we have seen these types of powers outside of the Star Wars universe.  What about telepathic and telekinetic abilities in Babylon 5?  The power of certain artifacts found in the Star Trek or Stargate franchises?  The Essence Powers actually handle these quite well.  I just wish the designers would have taken some time to open the system up to a wider variety of universes.

    Overall conclusions

    Make no mistakes - this really is a great narrative skirmish game.  Playing a campaign will feel like watching a movie or reading a book - far more satisfying than "line up and shoot" or "occupy objectives 1-3."  I'd love to see this game grow and expand into a major franchise within itself - and it seems like Scott and company are on the job.  And it very strongly reinforces our belief that 15mm is the perfect scale for narrative games - not just for company-sized battles!

    Saturday 10 December 2011

    A Christmas Gift from ArtCrime Productions

    ArtCrime Productions brought us an idea that we couldn't pass up.  Jimbo wants the 15mm community to see that ArtCrime is as dedicated to producing the best available rules as well as their excellent miniatures range.  As an exclusive gift to Dropship Horizon's followers, he has provided a free copy of their Valkyrie rulebook!

    Jimbo warns that these rules are still technically in beta form, so the book is still missing some of the final artwork and army lists.  But this is far from a rough draft.  This version of Valkyrie offers a great look into their Kaczar setting, and features full army lists for their Nationalists, Federalists, and Makat, and four different scenarios that are ready to play.

    UPDATE - Mediafire apparently had some nasty popups that didn't
    come through when I first posted this.  I've moved the file over to
    for safety - click here to download.

    Jimbo told us that he couldn't think of a smarter group of 15mm gamers than Dropship Horizon's readers.  And let's face it, we're suckers for that kind of flattery.  So please give them a read, try out a couple games, and join us at the ArtCrime Productions Forums to discuss your results.  


    The Scene Wasteland Warriors

    Here are some nice pictures of latest releases from The Scene which are available now. These post-apocalyptic Wasteland Warriors will be available on foot in packs of 10 (5 different scuplts) for £3.65 and ride some futuristic looking bikes. Wasteland rough riders like the one pictured above will be available for £1.25 each. These are some nice looking additional inhabitants to the 15mm post-apocalyptic landscape!

    Wednesday 7 December 2011

    Getting the Harook onto the battlefield

    We saw the concept art... we saw the greens... and then we saw the final product.  Mad Robot Miniatures' Harook are now in my greedy little hands - painted, based, and ready to fight.  To me, this is the most important aspect of the miniatures hobby.  It's fun to discuss, choose, and buy - that's always a big part of it.  And I do enjoy painting, though I'll admit my lack of patience doesn't always improve my figures.  But thinking, planning, discussing, and shopping just don't provide that feeling of satisfaction to me - so it's time to throw some dice.

    My review pack has gave me ten Harook soldiers, each armed with an energy rifle.  One Harook is making a hand signal and another is carrying some type of tablet PC.  This yields two fireteams of five, each with a team leader.  These ten figures alone would have been just fine for a small skirmish like Gut Check or ItEN, but they needed just a little more to play a small FUBAR or Forge of War battle.  Mad Robot wasn't able to wave a magic wand and have vehicles ready for this initial release, but why should that stop me from using them in a full-sized battle?  I looked through my pile of unbuilt resin and metal, hoping to find something to support these infantry teams.  There was one vehicle in my collection with an eye-catching detail.  So I built and threw some quick paint onto it.  Nothing fancy - just a black undercoat, gray drybrush, yellow details, leather-colored weapons, and a black wash over the whole thing.

    The Critical Mass Games Arc Fleet Walker isn't a perfect match, but it's not bad.  While the weapons are a bit conventional (especially compared to the concept art for Harook heavy guns), its feet are perfect.  Three sharp toes forward, one to the back.  And it's just temporary - I can obviously remake this force once Mad Robot gets Harook vehicles onto the market.  But this walker gets me by for now.

    All in all, it's not a bad little battleforce.  One more pack of Harook would yield four fireteams - plenty of troops for a game of FUBAR on a 2' x 2' terrain-heavy battlefield.  Just a little more effort into stats and they are ready to play.  We'll assume the Harook are pretty well-trained, and that their natural eyesight and the advanced design of their weapons makes them pretty formidable troops.

    I included stats for the two infantry heavy weapons that should be in the next release.  But like I've said before - there's no reason to wait for a so-called "full range."  If there's a line of infantry that catches your eye - buy it and use it!  You can always find drones, vehicles, or some other interesting item to support them.  It's more fun to just play a game than it is to agonize over your TOE or army list.  Be creative and enjoy the freedom offered by 15mm sci-fi!


    Tuesday 6 December 2011

    15mm Body Bags from The Scene

    The Scene have just released some 15mm Body Bags. The pack will consist of 3x 15mm body bags, one open and two closed  and will retail at 80p per pack. The pictured body bags are based on UK 1 pence pieces. On their own they seem a little macabre but Mike has said there'll be more in January with zombies busting out of the bags! It sounds like they'll make some great objective markers or spawn points for 15mm zombie games...


    The Scene will be releasing some wasteland warriors before the end of this week, along with some small robots. Mike is also planning on releasing some drones, more building accessories, new special forces and some more wasteland warriors in between Christmas and New Year!

    Saturday 3 December 2011

    Review - Harook by Mad Robot Miniatures

    Mad Robot Miniatures Harook are now available, and once again Steve sent an early pack so I could write this review.  The Harook are another one of those lines developed from a TMP thread (started by our own Eli) - see that original discussion here.

    As with the TMC Jump Troops, the Harook are excellent castings.  Mold lines weren't visible on any of them, there were only a few strands of heat-vent flash, and the detail is exceptional.  The bases are just a bit thicker than I prefer, but nothing more than you'd see on most Critical Mass minis.  It only took about ten minutes to file them all down and get them onto painting sticks.

    There are ten unique poses in the pack, just like we saw in the preview.  Each has a unique, and all but the command figure are in dynamic action poses.  And they're tall - it's easy to imagine they evolved from some kind of large terror bird.

    The details really popped once I sprayed them white and hit them with a quick black Wonder Wash.  Pedro Navarro knocked these out of the park when he sculpted them, and they translated very well into the final product.  These are perfect space opera aliens... the beaks are big without being cartoonish, their uniforms are distinct, and their weapons are fantastic.  They look completely unlike anything a human would consider a gun, but there is no doubting its purpose.  Inspired by the college football game I was watching when these arrived, I eagerly painted a test figure.

    These should be a great opponent for my Hammer's Huskers mercenaries. :)  I knocked out a few more troopers and the commander, which is probably my favorite figure.  He's carrying one of those one-handed tablet devices that is becoming so popular on 15mm command figures.  I don't know who thought of that first, but it's a great idea.  Those things can be a medical scanner, an artillery coordination controller, a remote for a heavy weapon or recon drone, or even just a simple radio or GPS.

    For now, the Harook offer a great squad of grunts or elite troops - perfectly suitable for a small skirmish, or as part of a larger Alien Legion-style army.  But the range is far from complete.  The Harook are going to be fleshed out into a full army very soon.  A command squad, plasma and SAW gunners, and crew-served weapons will be available next..  Mad Robot has shared this concept art as a promise of things to come:

    And I've been told there are some even bigger plans after that.  I can't go into the specifics, but let's just say the Harook will receive something that rhymes with "mopship" and helps them get to the battlefield quickly.


    Friday 2 December 2011 Announces Holiday Special

    Jolly, froggy space pirates want to come live with you!
    Free packs are back for the holidays! Check out this offer from Great time to pick up some civilians or characters for your 15mm scifi or to bulk up those armies of minions and henchmen.
    Hello Everyone,

    This month we are offering you a FREE PACK of miniatures worth £4.00 with any order placed. Choose from our Laserburn, HOF, SHM, HOT, TTF, Isarus, Medus, Altuos or Potomac ranges. Great for beginning or expanding your 15mm gaming!

    Note that we will only honour an order with ONE free pack in it but you may place as many orders as you wish. Additionally though you are free to order other items from our site at the same time you do not have to. Indeed if you only want the free pack just put that in your cart, select your shipping region and pay on the postage.

    This offer is open until the end of December 2011.

    Want Something for Nothing? You Got It!

    Thanks for Reading,
    Alexander Scott.

    Wednesday 30 November 2011

    Blasters & Bulkheads Part Three - The Escape

    This is the second AAR from my Blasters & Bulkheads micro-campaign, pitting adventurer Gann Helray and his Black Falcons against Beros, Chosen of the Shadow Worlds (see the forces I created here).  After the last scenario (full AAR in the previous article), Helray learned that an old flame was attempting to smuggle an artifact out of the spaceport of Zillium.  She is being pursued by Beros, who has been sent by the Shadow World Elders to retrieve the item in question.  The orders didn’t specify anything about keeping the courier alive - but the item must be retrieved intact.


    Alina Jax had almost reached her ship when she caught site of Beros The Chosen.  She cursed the alien who paid her to steal this artifact - he had obviously lied to her about its origins and importance.  She’d have to pay him another visit... if she managed to survive the next few minutes.

    Scenario Two Setup
    This scenario takes place just after the last battle.  Helray’s alien companion Kwah’Koo was badly wounded (KO’d) in the last game, and operates at a speed and strength disadvantage for this battle.

    This game is the second scenario from the Blasters & Bulkheads rulebook, with just a few minor changes.  In the book, both parties are trying to stop the Courier (basically a moving objective with character stats).  In my storyline Helray wants Alina to escape safely, so his side’s objective is simply to delay Beros’ forces long enough for Alina to escape.  Beros’ objective is to take the artifact from Alina before she can reach the ship.  She can move up to 10cm per turn, so Beros must act quickly to stop her.

    Alina is a GZG Civilian Colonist.  A mix of other GZG and Laserburn civilians were scattered around the table.  Scenery is a mix of GZG Shacks, Battleworks Studios Startown Slums, and The Scene Desert Dwellings.  Alina's ship is a Titanium-series Battlestar Galactica Raptor toy (which I need to repaint).


    Alina ran toward her ship at the start of the turn.  Helray won initiative and charged to intercept her.  Beros also charged directly forward.  Kwah’koo charged as well, but couldn’t keep up with Helray due to his injury.  Nazaeran advanced and had a clear line of sight to Helray.  He fired his Sun Gun at the young nobleman - Helray lost two Vitality.  Sarge and the Black Falcon Troopers couldn’t activate until the end of the turn (see last AAR), so the activation passed to Beros’ Guardian henchmen.  Beros ordered them to set their rifles to Stun and fire on Alina.  They weren’t successful due to the range.

    Sarge caught up with Kwah’koo and took a potshot at Beros.  It was unlikely to succeed at this range, but Sarge likes saying a proper “hello” to old friends.  Surprisingly, he was able to knock a couple Vitality off the dark warrior.  Sarge ordered his troopers around a nearby shack, hoping to gain to a better firing position.


    The spaceport civilians were now fleeing into their buildings.  Alina managed to find temporary shelter behind a rusted shack, still inching closer to her ship.  Helray won initiative again and caught up with Alina.
    "Gann Helray... We must stop meeting like this."
    Kwah’koo moved to a cover position with the Falcon Troopers.  Beros ran to intercept Alina and Helray, while Nazaeran advanced and fired on Sarge.  Sarge was hit for three Vitality.  Beros’ Guardians charged towards Alina’s shuttle.

    Sarge aimed and shot at Nazaeran, but his rifle was no match for the Enforcer’s heavy armor.  The Falcon troopers took a firing position behind a pile of containers... all they could do was wait for targets.
    "No, Trooper, you may NOT stop to pet the dog."


    Helray escorted Alina to her shuttle.  They almost made it when Beros caught up with them.  He struck, draining two Vitality from each.
    "What, you mean this package?  It's just a birthday present for your mother..."
    Kwah’koo scurried to assist, but ended up in Nazaeran’s sights once again.  Kwah’koo had some miserable rolls for the attack - he lost six Vitality to the Sun Gun’s blast.  He was KO’d for the second straight battle.
    "Dear Santa - Power Armor.  Soon . Thank you."
    Beros’ Guardians attacked Sarge.  The dice finally went against Beros’ forces - the Guardians only rolled a single success on their attack.  Sarge happily returned fire, dropping three of the Guardians.
    "I get the feeling they don't like us."
    His troops abandoned their cover and raced to the aid of Kwah’koo.  They broke out his Med Kit, but were unable to revive him.


    Alina was unable to break away, and Helray couldn’t harm Beros.  Beros used his “disarm” Essence Power to grab the artifact from Alina.  He left the melee.  Once he was clear, Nazaeran slipped around the corner and fired his flamethrower at Helray and Alina.  They were both KO’d while still on fire... not an impressive end to their mission.
    "Boss, you need anything?"
    "An ice pack would be lovely. It's a little warm in the middle of this bonfire."
    Sarge managed to shoot down the last two of Beros’ henchmen.  The Falcon Trooper who attempted to help Kwah’koo carried him back to the table edge.  Two Falcon troopers laid covering fire towards Nazaeran while the other two ran to extinguish Helray and Alina.

    Sarge took a potshot at Beros, then assessed the situation.  The boy, the girl, and the blue thing were all down, possibly dying.  Sarge himself had also been wounded in the firefight.  He ordered his troops to grab the wounded and fall back... if they didn’t receive medical attention soon, the baron would probably execute Sarge for allowing his son to die fighting a Chosen Warrior.  

    Beros and Nazaeran had no problem reaching their ship.  The elders would be unhappy that Beros’ Guardians had been killed, but he had accomplished his mission.  He had also dealt a blow to that Helray boy... a lesson he wouldn’t soon forget.  Nazaeran set course for the Shadow Worlds, and Zillium quickly became a speck behind them.  

    Yes... that Helray boy was proving to be quite troublesome...

    That's all for my little Blasters & Bulkheads field test.  A detailed review of the rulebook will follow shortly... in the meantime, pleas send flowers to Helray and Alina in the burn unit.


    Monday 28 November 2011

    15mm RPG Skirmish Games

    I’ve read quite a bit recently about how 15mm sci fi is for massed battles of vehicles and infantry and 28mm is for skirmish games. With respect to those who hold this view, I think its rubbish.

    Currently gamers can chose from some great rule sets such as: Laserburn, Blasters and Bulkeads, In The Emperor's Name, The Department, 5150 New Beginnings and AE Bounty; all of which RPG elements such as player controlled characters and scenario driven games play and table top wargame skirmish elements. And there’s also a rumour Ambush Alley Games maybe working on something as an add-on to Tomorrow’s War.

    When we look at some of the first 15mm sci fi figures ever available, the Laserburn and Classic Traveller ranges of 15mm sci fi figures, we can see that 15mm sci fi figures produced were for small scale skirmish / RPG type games such as Laserburn (the predecessor to Rogue Trader edition of Warhammer 40K) and Traveller and it’s skirmish wargame counterpart Striker.

    A common complaint is that there aren’t enough character models in 15mm. There are quite a lot of individual character models available in the ranges mentioned above but there are also loads available from Rebel, there's Khurasan's Heroes and Villains of the Sepulvedan Resistance and the DPLS Crew, there's GZG large range of civilians and colonists, ravagers and free trader crew, the excellent Critical Mass Games Mercs, to name but a few. I'm very slowly accumulating 15mm sci fi character models over on my own blog so I know the options are there!

    That said, there’s plenty of room for new models with bags of character; there’s a notable lack of “force users” and “psychers” and there’s also a shortage of “evil masterminds” in the style of Ming the Merciless or Darth Vader and “heroic types” such as Commander Sheppard or Luke Skywalker who are suitable to represent RPG characters on the table top.

    Of course, rather than waiting round for someone to sculpt and cast the model you’re looking for, you can always convert an existing figure. Some gamers may think that 15mm figures can’t be converted but there are quite a few examples of very heavily and very nicely converted 15mm sci fi figures. A little bit of green stuff can go a long way in 15mm but it does take a degree of modelling skill. Fortunately this is something you can pick up with a bit of practice and a degree of perseverance.

    Probably the simplest conversion is a head swap. Just look at all the 15mm heads available from Peter Pig for head swaps! And don't forget GZG’s conversion heads and also Astro Miniatures offerings. Perhaps in a future article we’ll take a more detailed look at converting a few different 15mm sci fi figures.

    Small scale skirmish gaming is great in 15mm for all the reasons that gaming in 15mm is great. As I’ve said before; 15mm allows you to build forces that don’t take an age to paint and you won’t have to mortgage your home to fund your obsession, or build an extension in order to house it!

    What do you think about 15mm sci fi wargaming; are you into gaming massed planetary assaults on rebellious colony worlds, or shoot outs between rival gangs on the mean streets of the far future? I think 15mm sci fi wargaming has room enough for both, and everything in between!

    Brigade Models announces annual Xmas Sale

    From Tony at Brigade Models-

    "Welcome once more to our Xmas sale. As for the previous couple of years, we're running a blanket discount rather than specific special offers, since everyone seems to like them. Although there are a few exceptions*, this isn't a '15% of selected items' or 'Up to 15% off' sale, it's a real '15% off everything' sale.

    So once again that's 15% off all of our models* - Aeronef, starships, Land Ironclads, 15mm and 6mm tanks, Squadron Commander, Iron Stars, WWI Belgians ... all except Celtos, where the Celtic Gods are being even more generous ... 25% off Celtos miniatures!

    And that's it - no minimum or maximum orders, just a blanket discount for the whole of December. So what are you waiting for ? Go out there and shop !

    * - There are just a few exceptions and conditions, as you might expect ... percentage shipping rates will still be charged at the full item cost, since we were unable to persuade the post office to match our offers ! The discount covers our metal and resin models - it doesn't apply to rulebooks, dice, bases, game mats, Xmarx buildings or anything else that we don't manufacture ourselves, simply because the margins on those items are much tighter. However, starter packs with rules, dice or bases in are covered. Even with these limitations, we're sure you'll agree it's a mighty fine offer !"

    Click on the link to see full details.

    Spartan 117

    Saturday 26 November 2011

    Review GZG New Releases – Humanoid Bots, NAC and UNSC

    Jon over at Ground Zero Games was kind enough to provide the Dropship Crew with samples of his latest releases.

    First up, and the most interest to me, is SG15-V16 Humanoid ‘Bots. These are 3 different humanoid-styled servant robots. Jon describes them in his news feed as “the offspring of an illicit liason between C-3PO and Gort with a strong dash of Hajime Sorayama thrown in for good measure.” I think the picture below illustrates this point!

    There are two well proportioned human-sized "male" and "female" bots, but the gem of the 3 is a larger cargo-handling bot who’s exterior plating closely resembles the armour of GZG’s New Israeli range (perhaps it’s a product of the NI arms industry!?!).

    I’ve been crying out for more 15mm humanoid robots and these guys certainly fit the bill. These could be used as anything from casual bystanders in colony space port to murderous Fabricated Human Simulants for the game The Department. The pack contains 6 figures (2 each of the 3 different bots) and is £3.00 inc. VAT.

    Next up is SG15-A22 NAC Power Armour with Hand Weapons. This is the second pack of the newly re-sculpted NAC power armour and contains 6  figures (3 each of two, quite similar, poses) with hand weapons, supplied with separate (optional) assault jump packs - pack contains 3 "standard" jump-packs, 2 jump-packs with over-shoulder micromissile clusters, and one command jump-pack with sensor/comms systems.

    As you can see from the pictures above, these new sculpts compare well with the older NAC PA sculpts but are a little but thinner and have different integral back packs. You can particularly see the benefits of the resculpt in the details on the legs of the new figures. You can see our review of the first pack here. The weapons and pose options available also expands the possibility of fielding larger power armoured forces without the same few poses repeated over and over. The pack contains 6 figures plus 2 sprues of jump-packs: £3.00 inc. VAT.

    Lastly we have SG15-U26 UNSC Light Troopers with GMS(P) light portable anti-armour missiles. This pack contains 8 figures, four each in prone and kneeling poses, all with single-shot missile tubes in firing positions.

    The prone figure is the same that which is currently supplied in pack U24 and Jon will probably revise U24 into a different figure mix in due course. Pack contains 8 figures (4 each of 2 different) and is £3.00 inc. VAT.

    All in all some nice, useful, releases. That said what I, and many other 15mm sci fi gamers, really want to see is what GZG are going to produce as part of the official figure line for Tomorrow’s War!  But we may need to be patient... Jon has a Christmas Sale on at the moment so what better excuse to pick up some GZG stocking fillers!