Written by Chris
Last year, Critical Mass Games added an assortment of ten armored fighting vehicles to their great Mercenaries range. Craig sent me review samples of each variant back around the holidays, so it's high time I share these with you. We'll start with the Bastion IFV (tracked variant) and the Havoc Tank (grav variant). This seems like the perfect time to show these off - they are featured prominently in the ZAS Army Expansion currently running on Kickstarter.
The Bastion and Havoc share a common hull - the smaller of the two hulls designed for the Mercenary armor range. Each vehicle is available in both the tracked and grav variants... I just chose one of each to keep this from getting too lengthy. The hulls are single-piece resin castings. The shape is heavily inspired by the German Marder IFV, but comparatively larger than its real-world counterpart.
The tracked vehicle's design is noteworthy - instead of a 3-piece hull with separate tracks, Critical Mass Games elected to use a single hull with filled space between the two tracks (see picture). This is very similar to what many of you have seen on wheeled vehicles from Old Crow, and is easily concealed by painting it a very dark color. The grav hull is also a single piece. Unlike the Arc Fleet vehicles, the Merc vehicles have no obvious grav engines, pods, or turbines. Whatever technology propels this vehicles is completely concealed within the lower hull.
The hulls in the photo haven't been prepared at all - they are among the cleanest resin castings I've ever handled. I can't find a trace of rippling or residue from the 3D printing process, and there were no mold lines or flash to sand or trim. A quick scrub with a soapy toothbrush and the hulls were ready to paint.
The Bastion includes a pewter remote-operated turret, a vertical dual weapon mount, and three weapon options (a conventional autocannon, an antipersonnel weapon identical to the one found on the Havoc, and a dual missile pod). The Grav vehicles also include a nicely-textured resin base. Compared with other 15mm troop transports, the Bastion is a bit on the larger side (similar dimensions as the CMG Arc Fleet APC and Old Crow Glaive). It's easy to imagine these transporting 12-14 troops. The tracked Bastion (and by extension, the tracked Havoc) would be comfortable anywhere from near-future settings to a lower-tech vehicle for far future games.
The resin turret on the Havoc is just as clean as the hulls. The only preparation required was cutting and sanding its resin-pour chute (I'm sure there's a more technical name for it). For pewter components, the Havoc includes a pintle-mounted antipersonnel weapon and two gun barrels for the turret. I chose the energy barrel for the grav variant. The round barrel/tracked variant has a very modern/near-future look. But simply changing out the barrel moves the Havoc well into science fiction territory, and the grav/energy barrel combination wouldn't look out of place in even the most outlandish space opera. I'm impressed by how much the vehicle's appearance changes simply by the shape of its main weapon.
The tracked hull dimensions are 75mm L x 35mm W x 22mm H. Here's the tracked Bastion IFV compared to some other 15mm transports:
- Rebel Minis Wolverine APC
- Antenociti's Workshop Karbardin APC
- Critical Mass Arc Fleet APC
- Old Crow Glaive APC
- Ravenstar Studios Blazer APC
- Ground Zero Games Gauntlet APC
The Grav hull shaves about 5mm off the vehicle's height, and then adds about 7mm if you use the included resin base. Here is the Havoc compared to some other 15mm tanks:
- Antenociti's Workshop Skorpion
- Old Crow Gladius
- Critical Mass Games Arc Fleet Medium Grav Tank
- Combat Wombat Medium Grav Tank
- Rebel Minis Merka MBT
- And just for fun, a Proxie Models mk1 Trencher Tank (note that the current mk2 has a longer hull)
Overall, I am quite impressed with these vehicles. They are an absolute pleasure to build... and paint, if you can tolerate my garish color choices. And if you can't, the catalog photos on the Critical Mass Games website showcase what can be done with their MaskFX camo system. For more camo eye candy, take a look at John Treadaway's gallery over at the Hammer's Slammers website. Browse through all six pages to see the painting process as well as their appearance on the game table.
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And don't forget about the ZAS! There's just four days to go on for the Critical Mass Games Kickstarter. It has been an overwhelming success so far - stretch goals have been exceeded faster than you can say "shiny new toys." The Bastion and Havoc are prominently featured in the Mechanized Company Commander pledge option.
You can select either the grav or the tracked options with your Kickstarter pledge. It also includes a custom command turret designed by John Bear Ross. If you haven't had a chance to support this project - or you want to upgrade your existing pledge to a mechanized option - make sure you get over there before the Kickstarter is finished. £80 is a great deal on a fully mechanized, cutting-edge 15mm Sci Fi army.