Monday 30 April 2012

Behind the Scenes of HOF Fire Team

The readers of Dropship Horizon were so heavily involved in the playtesting of 15mm.Co.Uk's latest game: HOF Fire Team.  Many of us ordered the game as soon as it was available, and those orders should now be arriving in everyone's mailboxes. To celebrate its release, Gavin Syme agreed to an interview about the concept, development stages, and future of HOF Fire Team.

CK: Hello, Gavin!

GS: Hello Dropship Horizon!  Thanks for asking me to do this short interview about the brand new and awesome HOF Fire-Team game.

CK: Down to business then. What is the inspiration behind HOF Fire-Team, and what sets it apart from other 15mm sci-fi games?

GS: The inspiration behind the game came from a desire to present something that did not exist in the expanding 15mm science fiction wagame genre and that was a game which used fairly simple mechanics and grids (or tiles) at a smaller than squad but bigger than single miniature level.  There are very few games on tiles in 15mm scale and Bob Minadeo and I thought there was definitely room for this one.  We wanted to put a game on tiles that was action packed and able to be used in many ways.

The use of straight forward mechanics and a D6 tied to actions depending on what rolls characters make (primarily 1's and 6's) makes for tension and uncertainty which is not common to many wargames where distances to targets, chances to shoot and so on can be worked out before activation.   Bob also included a versatile 'Tech Level' system that not only allows generic settings for the game (from near future to far future) but also acts as a force multiplier in combat.  Tech Level increases the range of weapons but it also allows command and control ranges to expand for troops on the tiles.  Higher Tech Levels mean better troops.  The 'Waypoint' system in the game means that all teams in play have current objectives that drive the game forwards all the time.

HOF Fire-Team makes use of small teams of miniatures, typically four, de-marked into 'Fire','Support','Command' and 'Vehicle' types each with their own role in play.   The game book contains not only three universes to operate in but also the full formulas to create any setting you desire.  The book gives you the Ion Age, home to the civil war of the Prydian Precinct (where the fellow on the book cover comes from), the Pan Galactic Empire where humanity sits among any number of alien civilisations and lastly the Argo Cities a near future setting of teeming metropolises dangerous tech, cyborgs and angry cults.   Off Table Support can be bought and rules are included for Med Evac and snipers along with smoke and gas.  Playing on grids means a compact playing area and a fast game.  You can play a game with three teams a side for two players in fifteen minutes.  HOF Fire-Team is very intense to play as the ranges are often short and if you are caught out in the open without cover...its adios!

All this sets it apart from the crowd.

CK: Does HOF Fire-Team share any similarities (other than the setting) with Alternative Armies' 28mm Firefight 2.0 game?

GS: There is no denying that HOF Fire-Team was inspired by Firefight 2.0 and we would not want to deny it.  Both are great and unique wargames.  One of the settings is the same, that of the Ion Age, but the others are totally different and the generic aspect is unique to HOFFT.  Similarities include the interplay of six sided dice, rolling for successes, the benefit and dangers of high and low rolls.  Unlike Firefight the scope of HOFFT is a little wider as instead of one character it is four in a team and there are more squares per tile too.  The two games share a kindred spirit of the 'D6 Action Dice' which makes play unpredictable and furiously fast and since they are both set in an urban and closed in environment lethality and the predominance of good cover and luck are foremost for a player.

CK: Dropship Horizon's readers were heavily involved in the Yahoo! playtest group.  How much influence did that group have upon the final product?

GS: Mark Hannam (who created and ran DSH at that time) is a friend of mine and he was really keen on the idea of HOF Fire-Team as he liked Firefight and he was involved in the very first discussions where he made it clear that a 15mm team based version would be cool but also that we would like to be in on the testing of the game engine.  So the testing was putting together a Yahoo Group, linking it up to the blog and then bringing the readers of the blog over to download a playtest draft and off they went.  We ended up with more than four hundred active members, most of them from DSH, and over a few weeks Bob and I were deeply into the commentary and examples of play.  Mark was front and centre in this too.

The group of playtesters had quite an effect on the final game it must be said.  They refined the Tech Levels which originally had been too powerful and they tweaked the Waypoints into something that had to be in every game and not optional.  They also made suggestions for diagrams, for tiles, for many different settings to put in the fiction of the book.  The Pan Galactic Empire and the Argo Cities settings are both distilled from group comments.  So without them the game would still have happened but it would not look the way it does and it would not have been as much fun to do.

CK: What was the process in getting HOF Fire-Team from playtest to the final release?

GS: HOF Fire-Team actually had the longest delay between playtesting and release of any game I have ever worked on!  The process for most of the titles I work on goes along the same lines with the creation of an idea and the writing of a draft which then goes onto playtesting.  In the case of HOFFT at the end of the playtest period I thanked all those who had been involved, took down the draft documents from the yahoo group, before moving onto organising what we would need to get the game to print.  I spoke the artwork over with Andy Gorman so that he knew what to draw for the cover and also the excellent internal images that separate each setting for the game.   While Andy was doing his thing I spoke to a graphic designer about logos and layouts for the game book so that we knew how much 'space' we had and what font sizing to use too.  It was clear soon on that the game was perfect for the smaller A5 format book.  Bob Minadeo and I had a few conversations on what diagrams to use and I asked Edward Jackson (the artist who does al the Flintloque artwork for Alternative Armies) to put together some artwork for the tile sets which he did.  This pulled together everything we needed and I had gotten to the point of test printings and pro-painted miniatures for use in the book when disaster struck!

I became ill.  Not from an infection or disease but rather I lost my eyesight totally for a number of weeks.  I do not want to go into detail but it was decided while I recovered to shelf the HOFFT game until I got better.  So a year passed and then by the time I had eased myself back to work with the USE ME first few titles I went back to HOFFT.  I looked at all the files, reminded everyone who was involved, and carried on.  In February 2012 the book was laid out for print and I oversaw the taking of pictures for use in the book and on its covers too.  We took some time to finalise the square sizes and designs on the tile sets.  By the end of the month it was ready!

Once the print runs arrived with us we went about the web work and review copies needed to get it to the wargaming community.  This actually takes a fair amount of time as wargamers now want to know a LOT about a title before they purchase it.  Compared to five years ago the web presence is much larger.  On final release I oversaw all the pre-ordered copies leaving the building and then began this very interview so here we are!

CK: What are the future plans for HOF Fire-Team?

GS: will be releasing free files for HOF Fire-Team including rosters, scenarios, optional rules, racial stats for those creatures and so on that did not make it into the book.  On top of this we do plan more sets of tiles and are open to suggestions on what they should be.  So far the top suggestions via email are for tiles that depict a hospital and a starport but there are also requests for special buildings, factories, a zoo and even the deck plans of starships.  Several gamers who have already bought the rules said to me at Salute 2012 (where the game premiered) that they would like to see self contained adventures for HOFFT much like the classic Laserburn ones (Tarim Towers Hiest etc) that would have a booklet along with tiles and perhaps even an option to have miniatures to carry out the adventure too.  So there is a massive amount of potential and anyone who had an idea and wants to tell me about it please email me on , I answer every email sent to me even though it sometimes takes me a week!

CK: Are there plans to expand the HOF figure range - in particular, the Retained, Muster, and Shia Khan?  We just had to ask since there is so much variety and character in their 28mm counterparts!

GS: Yes!  The HOF 15mm science fiction range continues to expand and produce new miniatures with several more packs this year alone.  We base almost all of our choices on what to do on customers’ requests that is why we have the Zidhe and the Octopods along with the Starfighter Crew and other packs.  What is coming next was chosen to support USE ME and Alien Squad Leader and was designed at the top of this year.  I will not spoil the surprise but these packs feature humans and aliens suitable for a near future and galactic setting.  We currently have no plans to expand the part of the HOF range which has the 15mm versions of the Ion Age types Retained, Muster, Shia Khan but that might change with HOFFT.  Certainly if we did we would do the Khanate Legion to go with the Drop Troops and Maligs we already have.  With enough requests by email... who knows!

CK: Thank you so much, Gavin!

Friday 27 April 2012

News and New Releases from Critical Mass Games

From Critical Mass Games:
"Salute 2012 has now been and gone once a year and it was certainly a hectic and exhausting event for the Critical Mass Team. We would like to thank everyone who came by and said hello and joined in with the games, it provided an uplifting buzz to the whole day and left the team feeling satisfied at a job well done.
Following up their pre-release at Salute we now have April's and March's releases available in the online store. Starting with this months releases we have 4 fantastic Battle Forces for the Critical Mass rules. Each set contains a pre-selected 1000 points Battle Force for each of the faction currently available. The ARC Fleet Force is priced £60.00, the Protolene £50.00, and the Praesentia and Kaamados Domion Battle Forces both at £45.00.
P.F. has provided us with yet another exciting addition to the MERCS line up this time with another pack of Vadorian Assassins. This set contain 5 unique miniatures and is priced £2.90.

Added to the Terrain section of the sotre we have our Alien Jungle Flora set that contains 18 pieces for £7.50. This set was used to build the trees featured in on our Salute jungle board and proved very popular.
Finally and by no means least we have last months releases which where delayed due to moulding issues. Having resolved this we are happy to announce the addition of the Naga Cohort Commanders, and Naga Draconum Legion Commanders to the Kaamados section of the store.
We will be attending the Carronade show on Saturday 5th May and we are now accepting pre-orders here for the show. All pre-orders will get a free goodie bag."

Khurasan Miniatures releases Nova Respublic Python Suits

From Khurasan Miniatures:
"We are very pleased to release our latest code for the revolutionary Crimson Army of Nova Respublik, the PA-3 Python armoured suit.
This large suit is armed with four 20mm autocannons as well as a missile rack holding two heavy-anti-material missiles. It also has pneumatic debris punches mounted to its arms for clearing obstacles, and these are often used in close combat as well.
The image below gives some indication of the size of the models.

These are packaged in sets of two suits, with two different leg sets and arm sets (each in different poses), two cockpits and two missile racks.
In addition to being widely used in the armies of Nova Respublik, where they are crewed by the elite People's Grenadiers, Python suits are also widely provided to their satellites, such as the RPK (Raathist Party of Kym). Above are multiple views of two Python power armoured suits, one painted in Nova Respublik temperate camo scheme (green black and tan) and the other as commonly seen in RPK use, its green primer coat largely untouched, with only a hasty sand pattern painted on the shoulder armour plates. (And so, ironically, RPK Pythons are usually greener than Nova suits! However, Pythons deployed by the RPK Presidential Guard divisions are usually sprayed more extensively with a sand breakup pattern.)

A note on nomenclature -- we have chosen to use the FTN (Federal Threat Nomenclature) designation for this suit, the PA-3 Python. The official UPSR designation for it is Crimson Banner of Interplanetary Revolution but is little used for obvious reasons, the soldiers preferring to call it the Kaban (boar).
Designed by Steve Tyler, painted by Dags. Available now! It's code TTC-2409 in the Nova and RPK ranges."

Thursday 26 April 2012

Editorial - The Future of Troop Carriers

As 15mm Sci Fi continues to grow, we see an ever-increasing variety of miniatures.  Infantry, buildings, aircraft, mecha, and especially ground vehicles, are being released every month.  The variety suits us well.  Those of us who play in this scale have a huge variety of backgrounds, influences, life experiences, and expectations of our hobby.  But there is one thing  that we all have in common...

We all spend time thinking about the future.   

Yes, I know it's fairly obvious.  It's called science fiction.  We think, we conjecture, we guess, and we invent.  But more to the point - we disagree.  Sometimes it's friendly debates, and sometimes we get downright angry and combative about defending our ideas.  :)  So, in the vein of the previous discussion about prone figures, I thought it might be interesting to hear a few different ideas about future combat systems.  Our first subject?  Armored Personnel Carriers.

If you've ever ridden in one, you'd understand why
they're running out so quickly!
Discussions about vehicle design and size turn downright hostile sometimes.  Which is great in some ways - it means 15mm gamers are getting very passionate about their armies.  But turning a personal opinion into some kind of fact (which, again, we're talking Science Fiction) contributes nothing to our growing hobby.

If they look too small, and you just can't visualize them with your troops - fine!  It's your army, and there are plenty of larger vehicles.  But please believe that the designers and manufacturers know what they're doing when these vehicles are produced.  They are considering both passenger space and the ability to transport these vehicles from theater to theater.

Similarly - what's wrong with liking a vehicle, but giving it a different role?  Example: you think a Combat Wombat LAV or GZG 6-Wheel MICV feels too small to be an APC in your force, but you still like its design.  What about using it for a scout car?  Fire support or retrans vehicle?  Or on the other side, you think a Khurasan Caiman or RAFM Grav APC is too large to be a single-squad transport.  Could it be a platoon carrier?  Or a mobile Tactical Operations Center?

Getting back to the subject, let's take a look at three iconic APCs from popular science fiction.  I'm going to personally match offerings from various 15mm manufacturers with these iconic vehicles to form some general categories.  These opinions, of course, are completely mine.  :)

*     *     *     *     *

First, let's take a look at a simple battle taxi - a futuristic version of Cold War-era APCs.

Going by Games Workshop's rules and background fluff, the Rhino is a basic workhorse in the 41st millennium.  Sure, it has a few advances over today's vehicles... it can operate in a vacuum, the crew can make many basic repairs, etc.  But at its core, this isn't much different from, say, an M113.  Here's the basic facts about this type of APC:
  • Armed only for self-defense
  • Lightly armored
  • Crams its passengers in like sardines
  • Small and light enough to be transported by air/sea/space craft
However, it's fairly obvious that simple "battle taxis" are going by the wayside.  Modern armies are equipped with Infantry Fighting Vehicles instead of APCs.  The key difference?  Offensive capability - these are designed to stay with the troops instead of dropping passengers and returning home.  But modern IFVs still cram their passengers into very confined spaces; it is absolutely imperative that they can be transported to the theater of battle.

1/100 Science Fiction vehicles that I'd personally throw in this category (feel free to disagree):

  • Antenociti's Workshop Hunchback and Karbardin, most of Ground Zero Games', Brigade Models', and Combat Wombat's great APCs, the Rebel Minis Wolverine, RAFM Imp, Old Crow's Claymore, Glaive, and Trojan, and Ravenstar Studios' Blazer, and Khurasan Miniatures' Yozhik, Cafferata, and Karkwagon vehicles. 

From this list, I really want to draw attention to GZG, Antenociti's Workshop, and Combat Wombat.  We sometimes see these vehicles described as "too small" for 15mm figures.  To put it bluntly - they're not.  If you've never had a chance - head to a military museum or display and stand next to modern APCs and IFVs.  They are far smaller than you may realize.  They would appear especially small if you had a 190cm diameter, 15-30cm thick disc glued to your boots!

*     *     *     *     *

On the other end of the APC design spectrum...

Let's think about the AT-AT purely in terms of the films... no Expanded Universe fluff necessary for today.  Basic facts about this type of vehicle:
  • Integrated command and communications suite - a fully-fledged General has no limitations commanding the battle from one of these and staying in contact with higher headquarters
  • Packed with troopers, with up to platoon-level support equipment (educated guess from the tripod laser cannon seen inside Echo Base)  
  • Armor is capable of withstanding direct hits from many high-power weapon systems 
  • Main armament is capable of devastating large structures.  
It's also fairly safe to say (again, excluding Expanded Universe sources) that this vehicle is designed as much for intimidation as it is utility.  Simply put... This vehicle has no contemporary Earth equivalent.  You won't see this archetype outside of science fiction (the Space Marine Land Raider being another example).

Very few equivalents in 15mm sci fi, at least so far.  Khurasan Miniatures' Alligator Assault Transport, in my opinion, is the perfect example of this archetype.  The Garn passengers are well protected by the shielding, and it clearly has enough firepower to level a small town!  I could also see the Khurasan Lion or the Old Crow Lancer as filling this role, but they could just as easily be in the next category...

*     *     *     *     *

So those are the extremes when it comes to future design philosophies.  Let's split the difference - combining what we know works today with what we think will best support military forces of the future.  Modern vehicles like the Stryker are starting to assume this role - keeping every soldier connected to a realtime battlefield grid.  This makes each vehicle a dedicated mini command center, rather than requiring separate "command post" variants of each APC.  Most of the technology for this is within our reach... I think we'll see vehicles following this design format in the next 15-30 years.  The most iconic example:

Again, we're going to ignore sources other than the film itself.  What we saw:
  • Transported and protected a squad  
  • Fully integrated command, control, and communications system
  • Plenty of spare room for long-term sustainment, such as food, weapons, maintenance parts, and medical supplies
  • Weaponry with a significant offensive punch
The movie script refers to it as an APC (Armored Personnel Carrier), which is fairly unbelievable to anyone with a reasonable level of military knowledge.  Even in the 80s, a vehicle with this design philosophy would have been designated as an IFV.  Using "APC" in the script really only leaves a few options.  It could have been a deliberate "update" of an old military term.  It could simply be slang or an informal definition (compare a 16th-century "handgonne" to a modern handgun for a good analogy).  Or, far more likely, it was a mix of the screenwriter's creative license and ignorance of basic military terminology.  

But this "APC" presents a unique blend of what's tried and tested in the 20th century, what we think early 21st century equivalents present (or should present), and what we think likely to come in the coming centuries.  Its design isn't simply to get troops into combat and then return to a base.  It's designed to stay with them, offer a mobile shelter/command post and increase their offensive capability.

I think these 15mm offerings fit this type of vehicle pretty well:

  • The Khurasan Caiman is the highlight of this category... I just don't personally see it firing a few shots, dropping the troops off, and being done with its mission.  However, Khurasan Miniatures does market this vehicle as a high-tech 13-man APC, not as anything more.
  • The Khurasan Atlas is another vehicle that could be seen following this design philosophy, along with the Old Crow Lancer and Critical Mass Games Kaamados transport vehicles.  Even the Critical Mass Arc Fleet transports are pretty large, and could easily serve as more than a common battle taxi.
*     *     *     *    *
Now I turn it over to you (manufacturers and sculptors - please jump in as well).  How do you like your troops to be transported?  Crammed into basic transports, neatly packed into a vehicle with some support weapons, or spaciously riding a vehicle that keeps them fully integrated with each other and their higher echelons?  What are your ideal and favorite 15mm transports?


Monday 23 April 2012

15mm.Co.Uk releases HOF Fire Team

This one has been a long time coming!

Let's flash back to 2010 for a moment.  Gavin at 15mm.Co.Uk asked Mark to lead the playtesting for their in-development game system.  Mark opened it up to the world, and many of us signed up for the playtest on Yahoo! Groups.  Personally, I had a good time during that playtest... even broke out the boards and notes and played a few games after that period ended. :)

Well, HOF Fire Team is here at last.  Rather than an open-terrain tabletop wargame, HOF-FT is a miniatures-board game hybrid.  The game is played on a collection of specially designed "Battle Boards," which means the game can be enjoyed with very little space.  And each side only has three fire teams - most games can be played with just 24 total figures.

The game retails for £8.00, and each of the three Battle Board tile packs retail for £4.00.

My personal copy hasn't arrived yet, so the full review will have to wait.  But we at least wanted to break the news of its release.  And share this special gift from Gavin and the folks at 15mm.Co.Uk...

In appreciation to Mark and all the Dropship Horizon passengers who helped develop this game, we have been presented with this special bundle offer.  The normal retail price for the game and all three tile packs is £20.00.  For the same price, the Dropship Horizon Bundle includes a FREE pack of HOF63 Zidhe Infantry and HOF67 Zidhe Jetbikes.  That's a complete army for our first HOF-FT games.  

Stay tuned for a review of HOF-FT, along with a behind-the-scenes interview with Gavin. 


Friday 20 April 2012

Comparison Pics - Antenociti's Workshop APCs


There's been some major confusion about the size of the new Antenociti's Workshop 15mm Governance Of Technology APCs - especially the Hunchback. I think the bad angle on my photograph yesterday has only added fuel to the fire. The APCs are more than large enough to carry a full squad of infantry (although I will agree that the Zebu Land Cruiser is on the small side). 

Unfortunately - I play really small games, so my vehicle collection is a bit limited.  Here are comparison pics against every APC that I own:

GOT Hunchback, Old Crow Glaive, GOT Karbardin,
Combat Wombat Grizzly

GOT Hunchback, Rebel Wolverine, GOT Karbardin,
Ravenstar Studios Blazer

GOT Hunchback, Matchbox ARV, GOT Karbardin,
Brigade Models Eurofed Tassigny

Hopefully this helps a bit!  These are certainly not a roomy mobile command center - that's why we have vehicles like Khurasan Caimans. But if you're looking for an armored transport - these are perfectly scaled to carry 15mm sci fi figures to the battlefield.  


Review - Antenociti's Workshop Governance Of Technology Vehicles

Jed at Antenociti's Workshop contacted us a few months ago, offering review samples of the Governance Of Technology 15mm range.  Of course, I eagerly responded, but never heard anything back.  Sure enough, a package arrived last week.  It contained not only the current G.O.T. releases (Karbardin APC and Skorpion Grav Tank), but early copies of the Hunchback APC and the Zebu Land Cruiser, previewed back in February!  Jed told me that these should be available at Salute this weekend. I know many of you have seen at least the Karbardin and Skorpion, or are at least familiar with Antenociti's more developed 28mm range.  But for those of you who haven't, here's a close look at the entire 15mm range.  

I used Armies Army Neo-Sov figures for comparison photos.

Hunchback APC

The Hunchback (a twelve-piece kit) is easily my favorite of the group.  The main body and six wheels are resin, and beautifully detailed.  A half-moon-profile axle securely holds the wheels into position.  Mine glued directly on without any extra filing or sanding, but a couple of the axle pegs could have been filed a bit shorter if I wanted.  The dual-mount turret and four weapon options are all cast in pewter.  The turret itself is a bit of a curiosity... It has a perfectly flat teardrop-shaped bottom, but the main body of the vehicle has a circular indentation!  Obviously this poses no problem for assembly - you simply glue the turret over the top of the indentation.  But it seemed a bit odd. :)  There are two each of two different weapons included - one is a nice box-style rocket pod, the other a four-tube launcher with attached gun barrel.  I threw one of each onto my turrret.  

The vehicle shape and design isn’t reminiscent of any real-world APCs.  This makes it more flexible among sci-fi settings... it could be near-future human, far-future human, or possibly an alien design since nothing  betrays it as especially terrestrial.  The body could hold anywhere from 8-12 troops convincingly, depending on their load.  It looks fast and aggressive, with a shape that could have some sort of anti-radar property.  The Hunchback also seems pretty well armored, offering more protection than aluminum sinned battle taxis.

The casting was perfectly clean.  There was just a slight bit of flash on two of the six wheels, but no visible trace of 3d printing.  The main body is perfectly clean other than a little bit of resin bubbling between the axles (completely invisible when assembled).  Even the armor rivets are clean and present; probably the highest level of detail I’ve seen in a 15mm vehicle.  The pewter components are also cleanly cast - a bit of mold line to file down, but not flaws or droopy barrels.

Zebu Land Cruiser

A very nice take on a near-future wheeled utility vehicle (I swear Jeep made a concept truck like this once).   Just like I said about the Khurasan Polecat, this could fill a wide variety of support or small-mission roles.  On a first look, the Zebu appears just a little undersized next to 15mm figures.  But since military vehicles are never known for having extra comfort, it’s probably just right.  

Old Crow Gecko, G.O.T. Zebu, Khurasan Rockjumper
It’s another clean and detailed vehicle, with just the slightest hint of 3d printing residue found only on the windshield.  The mini itself comes with a once-piece body (wheels are part of the single cast) and three pewter accessories.  One is the armored bumper piece, which fits quite nicely.  The other two pieces are top hatches... one flat with a small ring mount, the other is is an armored gunners’ station (like we see on MRAPs and newer HMMWVs).  Jed deliberately does not include a turret weapon with these.  He figures most of us have enough spare weapons lying about, so this would allow us to customize our Zebus to match the infantry force of our choosing.

Old Crow Jeep, G.O.T. Zebu, Ravenstar Studios Jackal

The hatch option is nice, but the armored turret was a bit fiddly.  You can probably see the superglue residue on the roof from my first few attempts.  It was mostly the rear portion that caused the problems - once it separated from the front, tweezers were needed to get it into position.  But it looks great once it's mounted onto the Zebu, and would look very nice with a gunner half-figure glued in the center.


I’m developing a love-hate relationship with the Skorpion.

(Need to retake this picture - came out blurry)

First, I love the overall design.  This thing is a great high-tech grav vehicle, suitable for plenty of far-future and space opera forces (human or alien).  It looks like it would maneuver quite nimbly, but still withstand heavy enemy fire.  The main weapon is a nicely detailed wide beam cannon, supported by two smaller antipersonnel weapons.  

That being said... there must be something about the Governance Of Technology background that I must not understand.  Because there’s no way this tank should be fighting alongside the Karbardin APC.  While the Karbardin looks like something from the year 2050, the Skorpion seems like it should be from the year 5020.  It would be a very strange contrast to me... if it made any difference in the vehicle itself.  Which, of course, it doesn’t.  Most 15mm gamers happily create their own background settings, and little tank should not be overlooked.

The Skorpion does have a few tiny parts that were tough to assemble. One of those is a little pewter headlight that mounts inside grav struts’ front tips. The other are some raised, squared pieces that sit a bit further back.  I have no idea what these are supposed to be, but relying on a simple surface-to-surface joint made them a pain to mount.  I’d probably just toss these aside before painting the Skorpion - the tank would look just fine without them.  The wide beam weapon is beautiful.  But it also suffers from a direct surface-to-surface contact... mine separated twice before I got a solid connection.  If you're a fan of two-part epoxy, that would be very helpful when assembling the Skorpion.


These are perfect APCs for near-future gaming.  The Karbardin's overall shape and size imply a next-generation Stryker or equivalent.  It is a wonderfully detailed vehicle, down to headlights, hatch handles, and pintle trailer hitch (I assume the latter would marry up very well with the GZG towed guns).  There was one tiny spot on the “chins” that had some casting issues - nothing that couldn’t be cleaned with a file.  There’s no trace of 3D printing residue on the visible surfaces.

The GP variant comes with a two-piece resin autocannon turret.  This weapon in particular makes the Karbardin look like something we could see within our lifetimes.  The anti-tank version comes with a larger single-piece turret incorporating a mini-missile launcher and a beam weapon.  This variant is more suited to distant future and space opera settings, and offers the only styling similarity between the Karbardin and the Skorpion grav tank.


Antenociti's Workshop has a well-deserved reputation for producing highly detailed miniatures.  Their attention to detail carries well into our scale, and these are easily among the nicest vehicles available.  There are some smaller bits than we're used to - the Skorpion in particular wouldn't be ideal for a young or inexperienced modeler.  But without a doubt - these vehicles would be great additions to any 15mm sci fi army.  I wonder what other 15mm Governance Of Technology products we'll see in our future...


Thursday 19 April 2012

New 15mm Scifi Structures From Ambush Alley and GameCraft Miniatures

Picture of Garage/Shop Module

Just released, a partnership between GameCraft Miniatures and Ambush Alley Games has produced a set of laser-cut, MDF, science fiction colony buildings. They come in a number of styles from small garage type structures, as pictured above, to large, stackable residential habitat blocks (below). They have even released some cool first generation colony shelters that look as if they were built using hull panels from the ship that brought them there(bottom).

Picture of Residence Maxi-Modules

All of the buildings are constructed with a fantastic accuracy and though I have not handled one personally, my experience with GameCraft's Old West buildings tells me that these will be easy to collect and build by the ton. The smaller habitats have the option to be built with the etched details or you can purchase detail bits that add extra relief details to the structures as portrayed in the top image.

Picture of Human Refugee Hut

I cannot wait to purchase some of these to fill out my scifi terrain and I am hoping that the larger structures will get some detailing kits as well.


Wednesday 18 April 2012

Preview - official Tomorrow's War figures

Many of us on this side of the Atlantic would kill for a chance to attend Salute this year.  

Sure, we have conventions here in the US. And the 15mm manufacturers really go out of their way to support them. But even the best US convention pales in comparison to Salute. In addition to the other 15mm Sci Fi goodness we've already reported, Shawn Carpenter from Ambush Alley wrote us about the upcoming Tomorrow's War figures being produced by Ground Zero Games:

Here are a couple of photos of the new 15mm Tomorrow's War figures that Ambush Alley Games and Ground Zero Games are developing. These are metal proto-types and the finals will be a little more polished (the sniper's base will be thinned down considerably for instance). Jon should have samples for people to see at Salute and I'll have some at Origins.
These two sets contain five poses each of Republic of Arden and DPRG troops. Jon and I are working together to develop support weapon, specialist, and crew served weapon packs for these factions. More factions will follow!
Best wishes,
Shawn Carpenter
Ambush Alley Games, LLC

Needless to say, I'd love to see these in the flesh this weekend!

Here's the preview of the DPRG troops:

And the Republic Of Arden:


Saturday 14 April 2012

The Department at Salute

We heard from Joe recently and he had this to say.

Hi Dropship Crew,

The Department: Noir Investigation Skirmish is going to be released to the general public at Salute 2012 (21st April 2012) .
We’ll be releasing the PDF book through our normal PDF distribution channels on the 21st. The printed books will be available at our stand at Salute (feel free to come and say hello). The PDF book will retail for $11.99 which includes the color and printer friendly versions.
In addition to the print and PDF products, Effigy Miniatures ( will be releasing a line of official 15mm figures for the game. We will soon be releasing a Kindle version of the book as well as a Kindle ebook that contains all Kieran Mathers’ fiction from the book as well as several bonus vignettes. These books will be provided for free to Kickstarter backers, and will be sold on the Amazon store to the general public.
You can take a look at our Kickstarter page here. 

This sounds like some exciting news and a great opportunity to check out this example of Kickstarter in action and a great looking game. so, if you happen to be at Salute, why not wander by and check out Joe's work.


Thursday 12 April 2012

USE ME Terminus - Primal Score AAR

(TV announcer voiceover)

Terminus had promised each challenge would prove more difficult.  After they placed Trooper Jamiss' remains into a cryo-pod, Commander Aiden checked his scanner.  He saw numerous small blips in the adjacent valley, closing in on their position.  And unlike the mechanisms they had just fought, these appeared to have life signs.  There was no time to grieve.  He ordered his men to unpack the drone-mounted rail cannons, and sent his lead scout to find a good firing position.

"You may just be getting warmed up, Terminus," thought Aiden.  "But you still have no idea who you are facing.  No matter what you have, we'll be ready." 

Scenario Two - Primal Score

The second scenario in Gavin Syme's Terminus campaign pits the Challengers against a massive horde of primitive troops.  My challengers escaped the previous scenario relatively unscathed - just a single Winged model at the start of this game.  I added two crewed heavy weapon systems (Micropanzer Gun Drones) and swapped the flamethrower for a sniper rifle.  

Lacking suitable primitives in my collection, I decided to go with mindless-yet-controllable creatures - Oddzial Osmy Spaceworms.  A total of 28 would be used in this scenario, broken down into swarms of four Worms.  One swarm would enter the table each turn.

The scenario calls for a long and skinny valley, with the Challengers in a suitable overwatch position.  I set up a 1' x 3' table instead of my usual 2' x 2' setup, and imagined rocky cliff walls on either side of the table.    

The game pretty well ran itself.  I gave the Worms a movement stat of 6", so they could cross the table pretty quickly.  But their aggressive setting meant that they wouldn't fire their weapons (I figured they had the equivalent of sidearms) until getting close, and would actually favor melee combat.  The gun drones had an optimal range of 16" and a max of 32".  They were able to wear down each horde from a distance, and the survivors were mopped up by rifle fire as they crept closer.

At least, that was the theory.  

The first few swarms were completely wiped out.  But the Worms kept appearing, and my early luck started turning into poor dice rolls.  The Worms were able to fire their first shots at the Challengers, and one of the gun crews was Struck.  I had to burn one turn rotating out riflemen at the guns, which allowed even more Worms to close in.

By the tenth game turn, everything had devolved into a brutal melee.  The hilltop was soon covered with blood and slime, and most figures were Winged or Struck after a few rounds of melee.  Seven Challengers were taken out of action, and finally Commander Aiden fell beside them.  But even with its superior numbers, Terminus couldn't break their spirits.  Two Challengers survived the onslaught, killing the last of the vicious Worms.


I started the game with ten Challengers, and only had two still standing at the end.  Fortunately, the post-battle rolls were very kind to me.  Six returned unscathed, a seventh returned with a Winged counter.  The two survivors weren't as lucky, and will also carry their Winged counters into the third scenario.

Commander Aiden regained consciousness, and was quickly overwhelmed by the stench of mutilated Worm carcasses.  His men helped him to his feet so he could assess the situation.  One of his best men, Corporal Gray, had been killed.  Nearly everyone was hurt, but they could make it back to the safety of their ship.  Aiden hoped they would get a few hours to rest and recover - they had certainly earned it. But deep down, he knew Terminus wouldn't give them the chance.

This was a really fun game - kudos to Gavin for providing me with an entertaining evening!


Rebel Minis - Drop Trooper and Kurgen Reinforcements

Rebel Minis has released additional packs for two of their most popular lines - the Drop Troopers and the alien Kurgen.  These packs will provide all the figures needed to build squads and platoons for almost any 15mm Sci Fi rules system.  

For the Drop Troopers, we have this pack of heavy weapons: 2 each missile launcher, autocannon, and sniper.

The missile launcher is just slightly different from the Earthforce Marines and Hardtops.  Even though Rebel Minis lists these forces under the same faction, it's quite easy to build independent (and opposing!) forces from each subset.  The autocannon is a great futuristic SAW equivalent, complete with overhand grips.  And the sniper's kneeling pose matches figures from both the infantry and command packs.  Need a spotter for the sniper?  The tablet/tricorder guy from the command pack would be perfect.

Then we have the Kurgen.  The original infantry pack made a pretty big splash when it was released - because what space opera gamer wouldn't want nicely-sculpted rubber-suit aliens?  But while the original pack did include a support weapon, the Kurgen still lacked the variety desired by so many gamers.  We now have this heavy weapons pack:  

It follows the same overall theme as the Earthforce packs: SAW equivalent, ATGM equivalent, and sniper.  I'll probably assign my autocannon warriors at the platoon level, and keep the heavy rifle from the main pack as the squad support weapon.  Or I could turn one of them into a flamethrower equivalent - the Kurgen would be fun in guncrawl-type games. :)

Then we have the command pack, which adds even more variety to the Kurgen arsenal.  I really like these blaster pistols!  

And all the 40K-in-15mm players might want to take a close look at them. It wouldn't be tough to convert the free hand to hold an Orky close combat weapon...


Wednesday 11 April 2012

More USE ME Titles from 15mm.Co.Uk

15mm.Co.Uk has released three more titles for the USE ME game system.  Two are additional settings, with each book containing the core USE ME rules and a ton of setting-specific advanced rules and flavor.  The third is a support pack - optional mechanics for any of the core USE ME books.

From Barking Irons

UM011 USE ME Cyberpunk
USE ME author O.G.Joel penned this title following up upon his success with USE ME Post-Apocalyptic (does he have a thing for nightmare futures?) as he has an interest in Cyberpunk. Taking the fast play rules of the D6 USE ME engine suiting 15mm scale miniatures (though it will work with smaller or larger scales with ease) he has given wargamers the future city of Neo-London with all the facets you could expect to see in this genre from corporate ronin to hackers and bioware. Lead your characters into adventure or turn them into cyborgs dedicated to winning a war against the corrupt system.

UM013 USE ME Eldritch Horror
The world we see is nothing, an illusion, of banal normality that covers a richness of cosmic horror that would blind and destroy the minds of men and render them senseless in the gaze of things far greater and older than imagination can conceive. But despair not! We refer not to the real world but instead to that of the thirteenth (no coincidence!) title in the USE ME series... An Eldritch Horror.
This title was born out of a fire of creativity in only a few weeks in a joint effort by O.G.Joel and G.B.Syme and given the thirteenth code in the series, as befits it, in response to a growing number of wargamers requests for a simple system to cover this genre of cosmic horror. The D6 engine is fast play and well suited to 15mm scale miniatures. Lead your party of characters against cultists, against insidious forces and against the Elder Gods themselves...but will you or madness prevail?

UM010 USE ME Support Pack
USE ME means 'Ultra Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements' and the system delivers just that. This title is an expansion to the basic rules and does require a rule book to make full use of it. The USE ME Support Pack gives you a lot to add to your games!
Strategy 101, Tactics 101, Building the Props, Laying the Terrain Boards, City Fights, Historical, Modern, Sci-fi Fights, Weather in War.  Suitable for use with almost any system this title is best suited to use with UM001,UM002,UM003,UM004, UM005,UM008, UM011.
This expansion title began as a way to randomly generate terrain and such for the USE ME system of game titles in 15mm scale. Titles such as UM001 USE ME 15mm Science Fiction and UM003 USE ME World War Two among others. It was also used in the testing for UM012 USE ME Alien Safari with a lot of success. After some interest by the Notables Yahoo Group in a game weather generator when the idea was mentioned in posts the word count expanded a bit. Then a couple of Notables mentioned how they were using the easily grasped USE ME system to introduce their offspring to Miniature War Gaming. This sort of tied the whole idea together for a war-game supplement. So here we are!

And don't forget, 15mm.Co.Uk is having a 15% off sale until 23 April.  It's a perfect chance to pick up a book or two along with some great and characterful miniatures!


Tuesday 10 April 2012

Khurasan releases Caiman APC

The M2189 Caiman APC has finally arrived!

Ever since its announcement, this has been one of the most anticipated 1/100 vehicles of all time.  It is now available from Khurasan Miniatures for $15.99 each.  It's not a perfect copy of... that one vehicle from that one movie... but it's darn close.  So for all you cinematic gamers, this is just the thing to take your Exterminators on another damn bug hunt.  Even if you aren't trying to recreate certain popular settings, this is a great heavy wheeled APC, with significant armor and supporting firepower.

We'll keep an eye on Khurasan these next few weeks - Jon has promised tons of long-due new releases.


Sunday 8 April 2012

Review - CorSec Engineering Barrier Fence

CorSec Engineering released their first 15mm terrain set this year - the Barrier Fence System.  While it was clearly inspired by a certain prehistoric sci-fi TV series, the CorSec version is designed to work with any 1/16" diameter fencing material.  This allows anything to be used... Terra Nova-style logs, a more conventional steel fence, or even a futuristic energy barrier.  Since I mainly play space opera settings, I chose the latter.

My order consisted of a Gatehouse, four Corner Towers, and eight standard Fence sections.  I figured this would let me stretch a complete fence across a 24" wide game table, or build a smaller rectangular compound. Well, it seems CorSec has discovered an additional wormhole within the United States - my pieces arrived just two days after I ordered them.  Kudos to Jonathan for such quick service!  

The pieces are quite nice.  The laser-cut acrylic is, of course, flawless.  No trimming, cutting, or filing is necessary - simply peel the scratchguard from either side of the pieces.  

Most of the components use tab-and-slot construction.  Superglue worked just fine for me, but I know many of you will use plastic cement.  My only complaint is that there are a couple of "butt joint" connections - the platforms on top of the corner tower and gatehouse.  There's no way to be sure that you're putting them in exactly the "right" place without a tab and slot, but this does give you some extra flexibility.  In fact, if you wanted to have versions with or without the platforms, you could probably accomplish this by using small rare earth magnets instead of gluing the platforms in place.

I sprayed the components with black spray primer after they were assembled.  While this was drying, I started work on my fence material.  I chose red fluorescent Plastruct rods, ordered quite cheaply from from Hobbylink.  After some experimentation, I learned that cutting two at a time with hobby cutters worked pretty well.  It was quicker than cutting them individually, but more than two resulted in some slippage and uneven cuts.  I went with 3" lengths for the standard fence sections.  This left me about 1.5" on each rod, which worked well for the corner platforms.  

The primer on the fence components had tried by the time I was done cutting the rods.  I gave each section a light coat of Vallejo black, then highlighted the edges with Model Master Euro Gray.  

Assembling the fence was a bit fiddly, but I eventually got the hang of it.  For the wall sections, I found it was best to thread the rods through both sides of the fence, then spread the sections apart.  I left one section loose in the middle of the rods while gluing them flush to the other section.  Once the flush edge dried, I could glue the loose section and trim off any bits that were hanging over.  The platforms and sliding gate were a bit easier to assemble since they had a fixed width.  It was simply a matter of gluing the rods flush to one side, clipping the excess off the other side, and securing them into place.

It took just one evening to get everything finished.  I threw a small compound together, based around a couple electrical box buildings from Micropanzer, to try running a quick assault scenario.  

Here's a close up of the gatehouse.  There's enough room on the platform for 2-3 figures, depending on your bases.

And the corner towers.  Perfect for a single sniper, or even a small heavy weapon drone.

This was a nice addition to my terrain collection.  I'll pick up another set eventually, and build that one with stained wooden dowels to work for lower-tech settings.