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Tag Archives: Miniatures

The Fleet is In

My new space armada has arrived!

I picked up a set of plastic space ship miniatures on a recent Amazon order. I’ve been looking for a decent and cheap source for ships to use in various games and this pack looked like just the ticket. You can find them here.

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These plastic ships come in a pack of 144 for under $7.00 and use a variety of molds. Their quality is fine, they won’t blow you away but they are not bad at all, and the quantity you get for the price is impressive.

Some of the molds look familiar to me, while others I’ve never seen. And then there is this one, that hit my nostalgia buttons very hard:

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Way back in the early 80’s I was a brand new gamer. I had just gotten my first copy of TSR’s Star Frontiers and falling in love with sci-fi gaming. I was getting into miniatures and had a few boxes of fantasy figures, but was having trouble finding sci-fi sets.

Then one day I was in the toy section of a department store and there on the shelf was a set of Traveller 15mm lead figures. The set had various space adventurers and this air car, complete with a removable figure. I snatched it up. (Lead gaming figures in a department store toy aisle, rare in the 80’s but impossible to imagine today).

I never found any more figures for Traveller, nor for that matter did I find the game itself. The only store in town with gaming stuff didn’t carry it and I did not yet really get ordering by mail, but I played with those figures for years.

I’m pleased with my purchase and finding this blast from the past is icing on the cake. I don’t have any specific plans for them, but sooner or later I’ll unleash them on my tabletop.

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Random Thoughts

My schedule continues to be bad for blogging, but has improved on other fronts.

Gaming: Our gaming group had a rare double-header, holding games two weekends in a row. Our GM is running a GURPS Supers/Horror game, where the adventures feel like a mix between Justice League and Hellboy, and set in 1960’s Florida. For this game I also get to run one of my long standing desires in supers gaming, a heroic duo. My friend and I created two brothers who were subjected to experiments by a mad scientist. This gave them the power to take on the abilities of different animals, much like DC’s Vixen or Animal Man, and like those characters they don’t change shape. However they do take on some physical characteristics as a special effect, such as growing feathers when channeling a bird, fur when channeling a canine, scales for fish, etc…

Their powers are activated or deactivated when the brothers touch, bringing in the inevitable Wonder Twins jokes. The two brothers are polar opposites on philosophy and argue incessantly, but are also protective of each other. Their code names are War and Peace and the animals they channel reflect their differing attitudes. War is a hot head and channels animals like wolf, kestrel, and shark. Peace is a pacifist (and a communist) and takes on animal powers like bloodhound, spider monkey, and dolphin. Their flexibility has made them very useful heroes and a lot of fun to play.

We’re looking forward to playing War and Peace again soon. Of course in a horror game there is the strong possibility of one of us dying. What will the other brother do if this happens?

Well… we did both take the Leatherworking skill…

Projects: My schedule has been bad for a number of things, but it has let me get started on a few projects. One of which is Car Wars related.

My love for Car Wars is well documented. I picked up a copy of the Classic Car Wars box set and a .PDF copy. One of the difficulties with the Car Wars arenas of old is that they came as folded maps and could be a bear to flatten out for game play. Using my PDF I’m printing an arena out in card stock and plan to assemble it on foam core, then play some games using the classic scale and rules. I want a fresh look at the old game to compare with 5th edition. I still have my classic Compendium, but the new box set takes the game back to a more basic form, before there was too much bloat in weapons and equipment. I’m quite pleased with the set and eager to try it out.

I’ve also finally started working on painting miniatures, something I haven’t done since my undergrad days. There are some miniatures I’ve been wanting to acquire and paint, but I know my limitations and I don’t want to invest the cash in something that might end up sitting in the closet undone for years. So I made a deal with myself; if I put a dent in some of the miniatures I already own I’ll go ahead and invest in the ones I want to work on.

To that end I’ve pulled out a couple boxes of Renegade Legion: Centurion anti-gravity tanks that I’ve had sitting in the closet for years. Centurion was another outstanding game from FASA that evokes the feeling of science fiction classics like Hammer’s Slammers. In my opinion it’s a far superior game to Battletech, with tighter and faster rules than it’s stompy-mecha big brother. Once I have enough tanks painted up I plan to pull the game out of mothballs and fire it up. It’s a good goal to work towards and I now have several Renegade medium APCs primed and waiting to go.

What about the miniatures that I want to acquire after I finish my tanks? For that I’ll be turning to the golden age Sci-Fi goodness that is War Rocket.

Adventure Seeds: One of the podcasts/blogs I follow is Skeptoid, a site where they take a critical look at various events and beliefs including cryptozolology, alternative medicine, and urban legends. Recently they ran an article entitled Lost Treasures of the 20th Century, and it’s full of great plot ideas for pulp adventures.

Some of the stories covered in the post are well known to me, such as the lost Nazi gold in Lake Toplitz and the lost Amber Room of the Russian empire (a subject worthy of its own post). Others I had never heard of, such as Yamashita’s Gold and the vanished crown jewels of Ireland. The post gives a nice short summary of these and other lost treasures, any of which would be a great candidate for writing an adventure.

Kung Fury!

Kung Fury is out! It’s free on YouTube in HD! Go! Go now!

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Soon my plastic brethren! Soon we ride!

 

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Boldly They Rode And Well

This past weekend I got try Napoleonic wargaming for the first time!

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Yes, I know the headline isn’t from a Napoleonic poem, but you can’t say no to the Light Brigade.

For all the years I’ve been a gamer historical wargaming is not something I’ve done much of, so this was something I was looking forward to. I was not disappointed. Six of us gathered round a large table to lead the Franco-Polish alliance against the Russian Empire, our armies arrayed in 15mm glory.

The rules set we used was Grande Armee, written by Sam Mustafa. It’s an excellent set of rules, crunchy enough to give you the feel of managing armies while streamlined enough that it is easy to pick up and run with. Only two of us had played the system before, but all of us were quickly up-to-speed without substantial pre-game instruction.

The game is divided into Turns and Phases. The number of Phases per Turn is variable, so unlike most games it’s best to measure the game by how many Phases were played instead of Turns. At the beginning of each Phase a die is rolled. If it’s higher than the last Phase number, the Turn continues. If it’s equal or lower, the Turn ends.

This is important for two reasons. The first is that each army has a number of Command Points to spend. These are used to automatically activate your sub-commanders, who can then issue orders to their troops. These commanders can also be activated by a sufficient die roll, but spending Command Points ensures that they are active and doing what you want them to do. Command Points are only replenished at the beginning of a Turn.

The second reason ending a Turn is important is that it gives you a chance to reinforce damaged units and rally routed units. Units have Strength Points. At the beginning of a Turn you can roll to “heal” them. A unit that has run out of Strength Points is routed and removed from the board, but you can try to return them to the field at reduced strength on the beginning of the next Turn. If that unit is routed again it is removed from the game.

The end result is that if a Turn drags on your command-and-control becomes strained as you run out of Command Points and your forces wear down.  Our first Turn had five Phases and by the end it felt like our armies had been spent, slamming into each other without the opportunity to regroup for too long. It was a neat effect.

Another thing I like about the rules we used is that there is little down time. Everyone is planning, moving, and fighting and not waiting around for long. Even if one of your commanders doesn’t activate it doesn’t mean they are out of the action. A commander may sit inactive, but the corps will still defend itself. It may re-position itself without attacking. It may choose to go full attack on the nearest enemy forces. But an inactive corps isn’t truly inactive, it’s just not doing exactly what you want them to do. This does a good job of giving the feel of confusion that happens on a battlefield.

Best of all an inactive corps will not do anything stupid. It won’t choose to run away or move in an inane manner just because you failed your command role. This means that the mechanics of the game do not frustrate the players, which is a major plus for the rules.

After we’d gone through two turns we decided to assess the battlefield and decide if we should proceed with another Turn or call the battle. The scenario allowed for another Turn before the end of battle, but we decided that thanks to heroic efforts by the Don Cossack forces and a dramatic push by Russian guard troops, the Franco-Polish alliance would withdraw in good order, give the Russian Empire a marginal victory, and live to fight another day. Meanwhile we the players all had a great time and look forward to taking the field again.

This was a great first exposure to large scale historical miniatures gaming for me. I can see why so many people become ardent fans of the genre and if I had the time and resources to collect and paint my own armies, I could easily get sucked in. Maybe someday.

For now I’ll revel in the glory of past battles and look forward to leading lead across the field once more.

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Polish and Russian Cavalry about to have a close encounter.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Gaming, History, Wargaming

 

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Mech Maker Update

A while back I posted about the Kickstarter project for Mech Maker, a service that would allow customers to design custom miniatures and have them 3D printed. The figures could be shipped to the customer or printed locally if an appropriate printer was available.

At the time I was very excited about the concept and technology involved, but had some reservations about the business model. Not that it was a bad model, but that it wasn’t right for me. You can read my thoughts here.

I checked in on the project and it turns out that they cancelled the campaign back in mid-May.

“I want you all to know Mech Maker will be back soon and IMAGIMOD is absolutely NOT going away. You’ve given us great feedback, so we’re going to rework the Kickstarter and relaunch it again in a few weeks. Primarily, we’re going to make it a lot easier for you to get an idea of the cost of Mech Making and will show in more detail what you can do for yourself or have professionally printed.”

-Developers’ Update

While I am sorry to see it didn’t work out, I am glad to see that they are regrouping and adjusting their strategy. The project is ambitious and I’m glad to see they’re willing to take the time to present the best possible campaign.

Best of luck to the developers. I will continue to keep an eye on their progress.

 

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Cool Stuff, Gaming, Science Fiction

 

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