As Critical Mass Games has a “20% Off” sale running on their Mercenary Line until 31st October, it makes sense to focus this second article on some of the Mercenaries.
Originally, the Mercenary Line consisted of Captain Bytt and his crew, and Bytt’s hired guns. The concept was brilliant. Like one of those slightly non-PC jokes that begins, “a Ptaar, a Korahga, a Gathneiki and a Farthoom walk in to a bar …”, we were presented with a group of characters, rather than the makings of an army.
While some of the later releases in the range, such as the Blockheads, the Ygs, the Astragars, and the ZAS, were more racially homogeneous, Critical Mass Games has continued to offer us disparate groups of story-rich characters, such as the Mercenary Droptroopers and the Freakshow.
I do like MERC11 The Freakshow. If Bytt’s hired guns are Interstellar bad-asses, then the Freakshow are just bad – a mini-gun toting cyborg with half his fleshy face ripped off; a big, heavily armoured guy with a huge beard; a little, two-toed demon with bulging eyes; a guy wearing partial ARC Fleet-style body armour and carrying an enormous rifle; and an enigmatic lizard-man. The Freaks look like they’d happily break things for no extra charge. As I mount my figures on 16mm washers, I have clipped Lizard-man’s base to fit and gently bent his tail around in a curve.
In the second photo, you can see the back of the little demon – a huge spread of braided hair. Big Beard, at photo-right, has pointy ears on either side of his big, bald head and, while he appears to be wearing a lot of armour, much of it appears to be strapped on over clothing of some sort, rather than a carapace. There is a lot of very intricate detail on these figures and I keep finding new things as I look at them closely.
I mentioned in part 1 of this review how much I welcomed the arrival of the caninoid Protolene Khanate as they seemed to me to be ideal proxies for Traveller Vargr. MERC12 Protolene Mercenary fighters offers four figures that can either be adventurers, or officers and specialists for a more conventional Protolene force. Along with a sniper and a leader-type (with pistol and rifle), there is a rifleprotolene and a SAW gunner. Again, there are lots of little details on the armour and equipment that really repay close scrutiny before painting.
Most of you are familiar with MERC13 ZAS Infantry, as they grace this blog’s masthead and are frequently enquired about. The ZAS are a four-sophont squad of sniper, SAW, and two rifleZAS, wearing slim-line, fully sealed, full combat armour and sealed helmets. While humanoid, they are slightly taller than standard humans, and their legs seem just slightly out of proportion to their bodies which gives them a slightly non-human vibe.
These three sets of figures will either provide you with ready-made crews for ItEN or 5150: New Beginnings; or characters or villains for a Science Fiction RPG; or squads for creating your own Alien Legion-type force; or officers, specialists and “foreign advisors” for a larger, Tomorrow’s War-type field force. And there’s no reason why they can't fulfil all these roles.
In Part 3 of this review, we’ll look at big, stompy battle suits, more Praesentia, and resin casting as it should be done.