Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Handsome Devils

Work has kept me busy the last while and with the cold weather coming in, it has been harder to work on the big projects. However I have some fine examples of steampunk sartorial elegance ideal for the games table. The first is Steampunk Montreal's Baron Celsius von Fahrenheit:

Elegantly dressed in coat and top hat, the Baron is equipped with his patent steam powered aethric communication apparatus, ideal for long range conversation in English et en Francais.  The Baron is available form RAFM miniatures a fine Canadian purveyor of miniatures and gaming accessories.

Next up we have a preview of the Winter line:

His trusty bowler hat firmly seated, and sporting an A. Smith designed armgun,  The Mechanic is ready for action at a moments notice. He too will be available from RAFM. Stay tuned for updates.

Further details on the RAFM Facebook page

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A short game of DBMM

A while back, two of the guys of the club scheduled a game of DBMM for last night. They were kind enough to let me take over one of the commands on fairly short notice. The battle saw the Abbasid Caliphate defending against the Ilkhanid horde of which I commanded one wing.  The Caliphate forces cowered in a fortified town and oasis, leaving their their pathetic horsemen to defend against the oncoming horde. The glorious Mongol army swept forward in a double envelopment their vastly superior steppe bred ponies charging around the unprotected flanks.

Sadly the game had to be called when one of the players fell ill. As always, it was good just to get out of the house and game. I learned a little bit more about how to use horse - always a weakness of mine and I got a much better handle on march movement.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kraag for a King - part three

This is part three of a multi-part series on the building of a mountain fortress or Kraag for the (soon to be) Great Martian King Antevaxx. The previous part, two point five, is here and the first article in the series is here.

 Where we left off:

I decided to live with the blobbiness as it gives an organic look much like a mud dauber wasp nest. I needed some household repair items so while at the hardware store, I picked up another can of foam and some primer. I built on what was already done and ended up with the picture above. 

Note that this is low expansion foam designed to fill gaps of about an inch / 2.5 cm. There are higher expansion foams available but I can't see using them for this kind of project - they would expand far too much. I had some foam left in the can so used it to make some random shapes and other terrain bits. I'll cover those another time.

So with the base complete, I gave the whole thing a shot of primer. Expanding foams can be very sensitive to UV light and will decompose into a crumbly mess. Given the pallor of the average gamer (myself included) UV exposure should not be a problem but one never knows. The primer I used was the same enamel based one I use for metal figures but the store was out of grey and I had to buy white.  After application, the primer stayed tacky for a good 24 hours. I was a bit concerned that being oil based it was eating the foam but in the end it dried properly. I have since used the primer on metal figures with the same result. It seems this particular batch just takes a while to dry. For future foam projects, I will look for an acrylic primer just to be sure.

I was happy with the general form of the Kraag, but the texture was too smooth for my liking. In the space 1889 canon, Mars is depicted as having once had a high level of technology but now is slowly degrading into barbarism. One of the technologies lost was the ability to fuse sand and soil into a strong glass like building material. So, building off the blobbiness of the foam, I wondered what such a material would look like after being blasted by wind driven sand and dust and studied various images of weathered glass and ceramic. Or - I needed some cheap texturing materials for my minis and figured I would use the same on the Kraag. I decided to go with a sand based texture and again while picking up home repair supplies, grabbed 66 lbs / 30 kg of sand for about $6.  

For the first pass, I used a brush to apply a 50% mix of PVA and water to an area of the foam. Then I spread sand over the wetted area and shook off the excess. This process was repeated until the whole Kraag was covered.

As you can see the results were patchy but promising. The PVA mix tends to run off the high spots giving nothing for the sand to stick to.  I let this first phase dry while I had a think. Digging around the gardening supplies, I found an old plant sprayer. I loaded this up with the PVA mix and went back over the Kraag. Then I laid down more sand, the end results shown in the pictures below.

The Big Picture
Up Close
The spray method worked much better. There are still a few bare spots but I think I will leave these as less worn areas. The surface is a little fragile yet and may need another application of PVA. Be sure to clean the sprayer well after use or the internal gubbins will be glued solid by the PVA. I am very happy with the work so far and Antevaxx will be by to inspect once everything has dried up. The next step will be to apply some colour washes over the sand.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Pilgrimage to the Lead Belt

The first couple of weeks in September were a little busy what with the family heading over to the UK to attend the Asylum Steampunk gathering and do some exploration of the touristy bits of England*.

We took in the usual sights in Lincoln and Nottingham, took a Ripper tour in London and of course spent a day at the Tower. However, the highlight, at least as far as this blog is concerned, was my trip to the lead belt a.k.a. Nottingham and parts close by. Whilst the ladies were off getting their hair coloured and pampered and other lady like things, my friend John was good enough to drive me around Nottingham to visit a number of establishments.

Caliver Books

The first stop was at Caliver Books. Located in an industrial complex tucked into the corner of a residential road, it didn't look like much. A little poking around was required to find the front door but entry was effected. The staff had just returned from a show so there were neatly stacked boxes everywhere. Frankly I was overwhelmed. Books, books and more books, rules, reference material, and boxes and bags of figures as far as one could see. Somehow a cup of tea made it into my hand and I was able to take a moment to adsorb it all.  One of the ladies putting away show stock suggested I might want to volunteer to assist. If we weren't on a schedule, I might have done. I received a warm welcome and highly suggest a visit if you are in the area.

I came away with DBMM army book 2, Saga, I Ain't Been Shot Mum and Forlorn Hope, thus starting a commitment to three new periods.

Foundry Miniatures

The next stop was Wargames Foundry  more commonly known as just Foundry.  Google maps threw us for a loop so a little extra driving was required - thanks again to John.  We pulled up at yet another non-descript  door in an equally non-descript industrial building. A push of the bell brought us into another warehouse space. Again after show restocking was under way. Where Caliver was filled with books, Foundry was filled with rack after rack of miniatures. I was able to more or less keep to my list picking up a platoon's worth of Home Guard (currently kicking myself for not buying a company)  and a pack of Victorian Heliographs. Then the nice lad helping us out mentioned that the Victoriana line was 50% off. I bought rather a lot only being limited by the spectre of overweight luggage charges. We were also told if we wanted anything that was out of stock, just ask and it would be cast up on the spot. This is service!  I was asked what I was playing and I mentioned I was just starting ECW. Somehow some engineers, musketeers and civilians made it into my bag along with a Foundry rules and modelling compendium.

Foundry has been reworking their shipping prices and is bringing a large number of lines back into production. Definitely worth a visit to the shop or on-line.  

Warhammer World

Our last stop was Warhammer World. I was a big fan of WH Fantasy in the early days but never swallowed the 40k pill. Unlike our previous two stops, there was no doubt we were in GW territory. From the 40k inspired building design to the FV432 APC converted into a Space Marine Rhino out front it was very obvious we were in Warhammer heaven. The galleries were full of beautifully painted troops - so nice I would never risk them on the table. I even saw some of the old figures I used.  The shop was extensive and reasonably full of starry eyed young gamers. We were not there for one of the rumoured half off / half off sales which is a probably good thing as we may have been crushed in the press.  Next to the shop is an extensive gaming area with many tables set out with beautifully sculpted terrain for all of GW's games. Beyond that was my target: Bugman's Bar. I had been told that the Bugman's Game, only available here, was a must get so I picked that up.  After looking at E-bay prices, I should have bought many more. I also got a little something for a friend.

Not being a fan boy, it was the least interesting of the three places. However if you are a GW fan, and there is nothing wrong with that,  you will not be disappointed.

More posts in the future as I get rules read and my new toys painted up.

*Wales, Scotland and Ireland (north and south) will have to wait for a future visit. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kraag for a King - part 2.5

This is part two point five of a multi-part series on the building of a mountain fortress or Kraag for the (soon to be) Great Martian King Antevaxx. Part two is here and the first article in the series is here.

Just a quick update. I wasn't going to do this part right away because I didn't think I had any spray foam. However, tucked away on the back of the shelf was a partially used and now expired can from some renovation work two years ago.  A little work to clean out the nozzle and I started to play:

The effect is more Castle Greyskull than I hoped and more foam is required.  I am thinking about using a knife to cut away the blobbiness and give it a more angular look. Whatever the rock profile, I will be covering it with sand to give a rougher finish.

More to follow.

Part three is here

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kraag for a King - part two

This is part two of a multi-part series on the building of a mountain fortress or Kraag for the (soon to be) Great Martian King Antevaxx. Part one is here.

With the main structure laid out, Antevaxx decided to add a few access points for his soon to be burgeoning army.

For the openings near the edges of the columns, a scroll saw was used to cut in through the edges.  However, Antevaxx was not happy. He wanted more doors!

So what is a poor contractor to do? Enter the Forstner bit:

These bits cut a smooth sided hole with a generally flat bottom. In addition they can be used to drill overlapping holes. Using a drill press makes for neater holes but that doesn't count for much on this job.

The centre section was punched out and some clean up was done using a knife. For heavier material a jigsaw would be handy.

With all the access doors cut, it was time to test fit the floors again.  It looked good

As you can see, I added some screws to better attach the support blocks. It would have been too hard to add them once the outside is covered. I pre-drilled the holes to prevent the blocks from splitting. This reinforcement complete and starting from the bottom up, I spread a liberal amount of glue on the blocks then slid the floors into place. Just visible through the upper opening is on of the screws I put through the floor into the blocks to act as a clamp. I haven't decided if these will stay in place or be removed. I also added three blocks at ground level. They were glued as usual and screws run up through the baseplate to hold that on. I decided to set the tower off centre back on the baseplate to give more room at the front for scenery and gaming room.   

But something was missing - a place to land. Using some scrap MDF and the outside of the tube as a template, I made a series of landing platforms. 

These were cut to shape using the scroll saw but some work with a knife was needed to make them fit tightly to the columns. The circle is the outline of a flying  base washer. It ensures there will be enough space to put the model during a game. Lots of glue was applied to the curved inner edges and finishing nails were run through pre-drilled holes to add strength and pin everything together.

Antevaxx's growing army takes a test flight to ensure everything is working well.

Antevaxx buzzes the tower!

Next up we start on the external scenic work.

Part 2.5 is here. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tourna - Miniatures rules you can play with your kids

Getting new blood into the hobby has been a topic of discussion in  he war gaming hobby for a long time now. On his blog, Bill Sempf posted  Tourna a simple set of rules he uses to play with his son.

Tourna lets you use any figures to hand from that old Warhammer army to Lego minifigs to plastic dinos.  A game is balanced by allotting  each player the same number of dice with more dice making for a larger game. The players then assign these dice to figures with generals getting two and regular figures 1. The rules easily allow for machines and monsters - just assign the figure more dice from your army pool.

Players can move a unit or battle (melee or shoot) in each turn.  Movement is in inches or whatever units are appropriate to the playing area.  As expected from its Warhammer inspired roots, Tourna takes a bucket of dice approach. Roll to hit, roll for damage with each damage point taking a die off the target figure. Melee takes place between units in base contact and shooters can hit anything in line of sight but at reduced hit and damage factors. Simple to understand tweaks allow for mounted units vehicles or other type of units. For example, mounted units move further than foot and can charge (move into contact and melee) an enemy unit in range. Victory goes to the last person standing.

Tourna looks to be a fast and easy way to introduce miniatures gaming to the youngest players.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Kraag for a King - part one

This is the the soon-to-be-Great High Martian King Antevaxx. He lives on Mars in the world of Space 1889. Antevaxx is an unhappy king. He stands alone on the dust swept Martian plain when to be a truly great king, he needs a mountain fortress - a Kraag - of his very own.

Only then will he amass an army worthy of his rank and ambition!
Only then will he lead his glorious hordes of flying warriors down upon the poorly defended cities of the soft and weak Canal Martians to loot and burn and capture slaves for his great war galleys!
Only then will he be able to launch Holy Crusade against the befouled Red Men and drive their filth from the sacred Mother Planet and rend their.....
Well, you get the picture....

 This project has been kicking around my head for a while. I had done some preliminary work months ago, but I could never get a round tuit. I was cleaning up my garage /  games space this week and decided I better get on with it or throw the stuff out.

In the image above are the base components.  The tubes are the paper core from a roll of industrial plastic film given to me by a friend over a year ago. I ran the core through a bandsaw to produce the half pillar sections shown. In front of these are some half-circle pine blocks. These will glue into the pillar sections to support the internal MDF floors. The floors are the lumpy looking things at the bottom of the picture and underneath those is the MDF base plate. The base plate was leftover from cutting out the monorail track sections.

Next up is test fitting the pillars on the base plate. A similar process was used to create the floors by marking the curves on a template then using the template to mark and cut the floor material.

Antevaxx signs off on the basic architectural design while incidentally acting as a height gauge. I put the higher pillars on the outside to create some relief and I hope to give the top of the Kraag a nest like appearance.

The floors were then test fitted into the pillars and the support block positions decided on. There were two considerations at play. In Space 1889 canon, the High Martians generally enter and exit their kraags from above or through openings high up on the structure. Lots of little entrances scattered up the side seemed out of character for an impregnable fortress (the ground level slave entrance will be dealt with later). Secondly was the practical need to get ones hand in to move figures around. As designed there will be one ground floor, a lower storage floor, a throne room / high level entrance and a castle like top floor.

The floor levels decided,  I glued the support blocks in place. I am contemplating running nails or screws through the face of the tube into the support blocks for added strength. The tubes were distorted a bit in the cutting process so there are gaps between block and tube in some places. Antevaxx reviews the progress so far before heading off to look at wallpaper sample books.

More to follow.

Part two is here


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

RAFM announces an Indiegogo campaign for new Space 1889 miniatures!

RAFM producers of the classic Space 1889 miniatures in 25mm have just started to raise funds through Indiegogo to keep the current 25mm line going and to expand it into a new realm - 28mm.

 In addition to the existing 25mm line, at the base level of there will be ten (yes 10!) new character figures including three air ship sailors, three Canal Martian civilians and four assorted heroes and ruffians.

 But it gets better! The stretch goals at increasing levels are the Martian Steppe Tiger, the Knoe Shoshu, the Skrill and finally the Ruumet Brehr! Think about that for a minute - a Ruumet Brehr on the table in 25/28mm.... puny elephants beware!

 But we are still not done yet. At the $56 plus level, you will get a 40% discount on any on line miniatures purchase for a full year. "But I am not a Space 1889 or VSF player" you say? RAFM has many lines including American Civil War, French Indian wars, Riel Rebellion, Colonial British, WWII, Vietnam, Ancients, USX Modern Day Heroes and of course the massive line of fantasy figures.

 Check out the full details here.

Monday, August 20, 2012

20 Questions

The Angry Lurker started a list of 20 questions that has been bouncing around war gaming related part of the internet for the last week or so. With nothing better to post about right now I thought I would take a crack at it.

 1. Favourite Wargaming period and why?
Ancients. I grow my own woad. 'nuff said.

2. Next period, money no object?

3. Favourite 5 films?
Blade Runner Science fiction that looked like a real world with real problems.  
Alien A space freighter that looks like a working ship and not the showroom floor model.  
Zulu Guilty pleasure. The Thin Red Line for the win Huzzah!
Stalingrad No heroes just bleak, cold horror.
Went the Day Well
From Wikipedia:

Tom Huddleston of Time Out London termed it "jawdroppingly subversive. Cavalcanti establishes, with loving care and the occasional wry wink, the ultimate bucolic English scene, then takes an almost sadistic delight in tearing it to bloody shreds in an orgy of shockingly blunt, matter-of-fact violence."
With a nod to Triumph of the Will This is evil: polished, seductive and dangerously appealing.

4. Favourite 5 TV series?
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Date night fodder when the kids were young.
Firefly Space Westerns Rule!  
True Blood A bloody soap opera that often has um "benefits" after the show is over.
Murdoch Mysteries Quiet Canadian detective show with a tinge of steam punk.
Big Bang Theory My people.....
Star Trek (original series) Dinners on TV trays in front of our first BW television. The beginning of geekdom becoming cool.

With a nod to The World at War that I am currently re-watching. A great series from a time when the people who were there were still around to talk about it.

5. Favourite book and author?
Too many. In the "if you had only one book on a desert island" category it would have to be Tolkien and Lord of the Rings for re-readability. Fondest memory would be The Way Things Work A two volume encyclopedia of technology originally in German. It had the basics of pretty much any machine you could name from the zipper to the cathode ray tube.  

6. Greatest General? Can’t count yourself!!
Marius. He change a whole society to win a war.

7. Favourite Wargames rules?
DBx: HotT for fast play fantasy, DBA for fast ancients and DBMM for the way the battle slowly slides out of your control.

8. Favourite Sport and team?
None and None  

9. If you had a only use once time machine, when and where would you go?
I would go forward 2,000 years to see what is actually important in our own time.
Finding out what happened to Crassus' legion would be another choice.
Sit down and chat with JC - Son of God or just plain nuts?
And of course - Kill Hitler (and Stalin if they were ever in the same room)  

10. Last meal on Death Row?
Full on Honzen Ryori with three soups and 11 sides prepared by a top flight chef. Failing that anything I can't cook myself.

11. Fantasy relationship and why?
The missus. Not just a hot chick but my best friend. In terms of a one off - Sarah Bernhardt to see if the reputation had any basis in fact.

12. If your life were a movie, who would play you?
Some no-name actor.

13. Favourite Comic Superhero?
Not a big comics person. Magnus, Robot Fighter  

14. Favourite Military quote?
"Because we're here, lad. Nobody else. Just us."  

15. Historical destination to visit?
The Maginot line.  

16. Biggest Wargaming regret?
Getting rid of my board war gaming collection.  

17. Favourite Fantasy job?
Archivist, Library of Alexandria.

18. Favourite Song Top 5?
Hanging Around - The Stranglers  
No More heroes - The Stranglers
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
Harry's Game - Clannad
Anything with pipes.

19. Favourite Wargaming Moment?
Double blind with referee Squad Leader night scenario. Pure gaming.

20. The miserable Git question, what upsets you?
Nazi apologists.
Clueless fanboi gamers who wear Hitler Jugend or other T-shirts because they think the SS was just a cool elite unit.
Drivers, cyclists the odd pedestrian.
Fundamentalists of any stripe.
Anti-Science types.
Homophobes (I hate that word).
Political fear mongering.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

RAFM Steampunk miniature contest winner

Alexandre Adam of Steampunk Montreal is the winner of the RAFM miniature contest!  The green is complete:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A different Cyclops build

James over at Rabbits in my Basement has a great variation on the RAFM Cyclops landwheeler made for him by a friend.  I particularly like the addition of a small turret. Although James says it was painted to match naval practice, the overall white scheme would be ideal for Canadian winter scenarios.

Sunday, July 29, 2012


Papermau is a site that host downloads and links to public domain and copyright expired paper models. The selection is varied and includes everything from video game characters to paper military helmets (yes pith helmets too). Some are straightforward but others like the Leopard 2 are quite complex.

Of interest to me are the military models including an 1899 armoured steam tractor, a monster WWI Russian wheeled tank, and the British WWII tracked patrol machine.  Many pieces like tread units and guns can be repurposed for VSF gaming and there is even some terrain like the Martello Tower. Don't miss the dirigible.

Finally, I think I will make up some 1:1 Congreve rocket models to go in the games room.  


Friday, July 27, 2012

The Portable War Game - ugly edition

Bob Cordery  has developed a series of rules called the Portable War Game. They are straightforward yet seem to give a good game. The playing surface is a grid of squares or hexagons depending on the version. This has not prevented some people like Ian Drury from turning out visually stunning boards and pieces to play with.

Two days from now we will be off camping for a week in our tiny trailer Tilley. There isn't enough room to swing a kitten let alone a cat so space is at a premium. I usually bring up DBA or HotT to play with a friend and a Go board as well.  This month, I had great hopes to produce a simple but still nicely put together version of the Portable War Game to try out as well but it didn't work out. I just about gave up on it until I flipped the go board over to its blank side. Some paint and permanent marker produced this:

Ugly as sin but workable.  Now to pieces. I needed something flat and robust for easy storage. I had some 20x20mm MDF bases left from another project. I thought about painting them up in nice colours but went instead for the fast fix. My full can of grey primer has packed it in leaving me with oh so disco gold and silver for the two sides:

Each set is getting a couple of coats of acrylic floor polish (dip painting base). I hope this will let me use an erasable marker to add the unit symbols allowing me to try out different force mixes. So there you have it - the ugliest implementation of The Portable War Game yet.  I'll let you know how it plays.

And as a bonus - a trooping of the colours of sorts. I was rearranging my storage cabinet and had all my VSF troops out so I took a picture:

As you can see the redcoats are outnumbered as they should be except for the two light tanks....

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Look away for a second and....

Over July, I have been trying to make up for a very busy June and clear out some of the lead pile. I have been plugging away at my last RAFM order. No real work plan just an hour or so when I could grab it. I did basic clean up on the figures, undercoat, block paint, dip and varnish. It seemed like a bit of a slog then last night I was laying down a coat of matte spray varnish and thought "Now I have to get on with the flocking."  Wait a second - all that is left is the flocking?  Without realizing it in under three weeks I had produced this:

Not a large output by some standards but a record for me especially on top of the monorail work I did in the same period.

Next step - a storable games table.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Monorail Update

June was a modelling write off with many other pleasant activities taking precedence. I wanted to get a surge going over the last few weeks and here are some of the results.

Let's start with some track work:

All MDF with dirt for the road and tea leaves for the ground cover along the edges. More can be done but I could happily put this on the table now. Be sure to prime both sides to prevent warping.

Moving on to the draisine.  This is the same RAFM kit seen in my earlier post; Irr Wb (F): Cyclopean delights with a few modifications.

I plated over the rear wheel well, removed the left drive wheel and added a rail bogie unit.  My first attempt was with a modified diesel loco bogie but it proved too high to sit right with the Cyclops drive wheel. I may use it for a rail Dreadnought later   For my second attempt I hacked apart a couple of Bettendorf trucks  and shimmed them out with styrene to produce the above. A big part of both attempts was remembering that  I was making a wargame piece and not working rolling stock so epoxying wheels solid was a proper solution to the problem.

I went with a World War II inspired camouflage pattern. I am not happy with my painting but that can always be redone later.

I dry brushed the "steam dome" and boiler reinforcing bands which gives it more of a Steampunk than VSF look, again, that can always be changed.

What was important for me was to put aside perfection and just get the project moving again. Background aside, this picture captures the image I have had in my head all along:

On Patrol!
I am very pleased with the results.

Addendum: for a certain aquatic avian, some of my toys.

Friday, July 13, 2012

RAFM is looking for a sculptor

My favourite VSF/Steampunk/Space 1889 Canadian miniatures manufacturer is looking for a sculptor:

"Silver Fox/RAFM Miniatures is currently looking for sculptors to fill requirements for 2 new 28/30mm projects. These projects are in the Steam punk genera and require multiple sculpts to complete. Ability to work to a deadline and enthusiasm for the genera are an asset.

Interested parties should send rates and portfolio to for review and consideration."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Guns for Patiala?

I have not had much time recently to work on anything, especially the monorail. This weekend is Father's Day weekend so I will be spending some time working on projects. Last night, I laid down a little more dirt on to the road portions of the rail sections and started thinking about further detailing. I will be using the track and trains mostly for VSF but rather just going with a reddish Martian sandscape, I decided to look at the terrain of the prototype in Patiala. Google brought up a huge number of clothing images - very strange but not much in  the way of landscape shots.  I was a little put out until I found this Wikipedia image. 

Yes it is a British WWI gun on a standard gauge railway and the only thing it has to do with the monorail is that Bhupinder Singh the Maharaja of Patiala, is looking at it. But - I am going to have to build one for the monorail - just maybe not quite so big.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Unashamed self-promotion

As mentioned in an earlier post, RAFM miniatures is running a competition on Facebook to design an new Space 1889/VSF/Steampunk miniature based on a user submitted photo.  Mine is here: My Photo. If you are on Facebook would you be so kind as to give it a like and push me into the lead - or pewter if you will.  Should you be so inclined, submit your own photo and see if you can achieve metallic immortality. 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Space 1889 Soldier's Companion High Martian draft house rules

Basing up some of the RAFM High Martians has presented a few problems.  The landed figures will fit on the standard basing washer but the flying figures aren't really stable. I was thinking about basing the flyers on mounted washers and turned to the Soldier's Companion for guidance. As many others have found, our favourite flying monkeys are barely mentioned in the Soldier's Companion rules. I decided to work up a set of draft house rules. Below are my thoughts and the end results.

The Thought Process

In the Space 1889 rules, High Martians are described as primitive brutes who primarily use hand weapons and Bows. Physically they are shorter than other Martians. Martians overall are limited in strength as player characters. As flyers, we can reasonably expect Hill Martians to be weaker still. And yet these primitive, technologically backward, physically inferior beings maintain an iron grip on the liftwood supply and keep large numbers of slaves under control. How is this possible?

I decided to use the dual basing sizes to drive the process. Each airborne High Martian needs space to manoeuvre just to stay aloft making them cavalry sized yet they can land and fight as foot troops. This sounded a lot to me like a flying variant of mounted infantry. Reading those rules, especially the restrictions on mounted fire further suggested that High Martians are more like Light Horse, capable of firing on the move and charging into combat but not getting the full melee benefit of Light Cavalry. This decision also sets the movement rate to that of irregular cavalry while flying and irregular foot while landed. The average cavalry movement also roughly fits the High Martian move rates in Sky Galleons of Mars

Irregular troops are limited to mass and open order formations. I thought about limiting flyers to open order to represent the extra space needed but we have used a large flying base to compensate for that already - besides who doesn't want to see a mass formation of flying monkeys charging across the board?  That leaves formation changes. By the book, irregulars have to take a full move to make a formation change. That makes sense for troops shaking out into skirmish order from mass formation or vice versa but what about landing? High Martians are supposedly good flyers so let's say they can make a half move and land, or take off and make a half move.

So far so good. What about terrain? For units on foot, it is simple - they move and are blocked as irregular foot. Flyers present another set of problems.  Let's fix combat height at Very Low as used in Cloudships and Gunboats and call this out of the reach of any hand weapon used from the ground but not quite as high as your average multi-storey building, woods or forest - NOE if you will. At Very Low, flyers can move over any terrain without delay but must move around large buildings. They can fly through forests and woods at the normal cavalry rate. Line of site is normal. Let's call Low higher than anything on the board. Barring the standard blocking terrain shadow, flyers at Low can see and be seen by any unit on the board. Guns get dangerous. To change levels, let's call that another half move. For firing or being fired at, units at very low count as being at ground level. Units at low count as 12" further away.

So now to combat. There are a couple of things to take into consideration here. The Soldier's Companion rules don't really address shooting at or by flyers. The 1889 rules give a bonus to the to hit target number making it harder to fire against flyers. I had thought about giving the Hill Martians extra fieldcraft and allow them to use that only when flying.  That works fairly well but instead I decided to stick with a low field craft for use both when landed and flying. The aerial field craft  bonus, the targeting flyers bonus and the open order bonus add up pretty quickly making it tough to hit skirmishing flyers. High Martians in mass lose two of the three bonuses which makes sense - it being easier to hit a fur ball of flying monkeys.

Next is melee. Given their smaller size, High Martians count as a weak adversary. High Martians can charge into melee on foot as any other ground troops. If flying, they can charge into melee as light horse and if their move permits, can land on top of an opposing unit. In this case, High Martians get the bonuses for flying, light horse and defending from higher ground for the first round of combat. For morale purposes this initial attack counts as a rear attack. In subsequent rounds, the High Martians are considered to be brought to ground and fight as normal foot. And that about does it. I haven't tested these yet but will post results when I do.

The short version

High Martians, standard V1,   Kings Guards E1
Weak Adversary
High Martians follow the same rules as Light Horse when airborne and irregular foot when landed. Foot and mounted bases can be used by agreement. At Very Low level, flying High Martians can move over any terrain except high buildings which they must move around  and forests or woods which they can move around or through with the normal mounted movement penalties. Normal range and line of sight rules apply. At Low level, A High Martian unit can see or be seen by any unit on the board subject to the normal blocking terrain shadow rules. They can fly over any terrain on the board without penalty. They count as an additional 12" further away when firing or being fired at. It costs a half cavalry move to change level, land or take off.

Hill Martians on foot fight as any other similarly armed foot unit. Flying High Martians receive their fieldcraft bonus when flying as well as the aerial target bonus when shot at.   They can charge into melee as light horse and if their moves allows, land on top of the defending unit counting as flying and up hill for the first round of melee. For morale purposes, this first round counts as a rear attack against their opponents. For subsequent rounds the High Martians are considered to have been brought to ground and fight as normal foot.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Preserve yourself in pewter! New 25mm VSF figure competition

RAFM of Canada is running a competition to create a new steampunk character for their Space 1889 line.  Full details here. Submit a picture and see yourself immortalized in shiny, shiny metal!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Talisman and Pith Helmets?

One of my all time favourite games is the original 1980`s Talisman. We have all but one of the expansions and it still gets brought out regularly. I just found out that Gary Chalk the artist for this edition is also a traditional war gamer who has created the terrain and units for some rather nice colonial scenarios. He also plays English Civil War and probably other periods.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Steam Fortress Victory - a review

A review of mine on the Steam Fortress Victory RPG is up over at Steampunk Canada.
Steam Fortress Victory Review

Thursday, May 24, 2012

CanGames Day 3 Part Three - DBA and Wrap Up

DBA Tournament
I was really looking forward to this tournament and I was not disappointed.  There were 15 players altogether giving us a solid four games each. The tournament organizer, Tod, did his best to create reasonable match ups.

Game 1 Ancient British vs Macedonians
My first game saw me up against Macedonians. I managed some generally good match ups but the dice did not cooperate and the centre folded. Facing double ranked pike didn't help either. My second game was against Patrician Roman. This went as expected with fate tipping to the other side - but my opponent Ben is a very good player and definitely gave fate a hearty shove.

Game 3 Ancient British vs New Kingdom Egyptian
Game 3 against New Kingdom Egyptians  went a bit better with the foot sloggers on both sides hanging out while the chariots got to it - again I came up short. Game 4 saw me against Ayyubid Egyptians. With three straight losses I was a little rattled, I allowed myself  to be distracted by a kibbitzer and didn't put down enough terrain. I lost yet again.

Some of the other games

Burgundian Ordonnance vs some flashy eastern chariot army

Burgundians again
I have been holding off on this post for a while because frankly I was a little disappointed in my performance. I made a study of the rules, tried for good match ups, developed a set of contingency plans and still placed dead last. Ancient British has a reputation for not being the best tournament army but still I should have been able to pull off one victory. In the end, my scores were something like1:4, 3:4, 3:4, 2:2+General  which frankly isn't that terrible a performance for my first big tournament. My one lasting regret is that I let the kibbitzer distract me in the last game.  My opponent deserved my full attention.

So will I give up on Ancient Brits and get something more tournament effective? No - while a win would have been nice, just playing was the highlight of my weekend. When my boys do come out on top - I will relish it all the more.

Wrap Up
CanGames is a gamer's convention. Apart  from the small vendor's area there is nothing to do but game. This appears to be by design or at least tradition. During my volunteer stint we did regular headcounts including people not at the gaming tables. One of the committee remarked that if people weren't gaming, what else were they doing? I also saw one couple cancel a couple of Sunday games on Saturday afternoon because they had been gaming since Friday opening and were burnt out. I am not sure if the venue is big enough to effectively offer other activities and the formula seems to have worked well for the last couple of decades. It is certainly very well run with no major problems left visible to the attendees. 

Apart from the food situation mentioned earlier, my one complaint was the noise level. It is entirely due to the characteristics of the building and thus unavoidable but still I found it very difficult to hear even across a 2' table.

Would I go again? Without hesitation.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

CanGames Day 3 Part Two - Queenston Heights

On Saturday I decided to sign up for another game to replace the naval game I missed. Since this year is the anniversary of the War of 1812, I decided to go with a re-enactment of the Battle of Queenston heights using the Rockets Red Glare rules. We played in teams generally by committee until enough reinforcements arrived that we could each take a command. I stood on the wrong side of the table and was assigned to the American side.

Board setup

If you see some similarity between this setup and the Dr. Who game posted earlier, it is because they were run by the same person and I believe on the same terrain using the same troops. The objective is to control the town and the gun emplacement on the high ground.

The invasion goes in

The Americans have superior numbers but have to land them in waves under the muzzle of a rather nasty gun in the redoubt on the first elevation. Our beach area was roughly from the base of the high ground elevation to the movement stick in the village. There was a gun on the hill and a rifle and a musket unit in the village.  We decided that the gun was the biggest problem so went for that first.

The Assault goes in!
The first wave consisted of a unit of regulars and a unit of  Militia. We landed our regulars first and while we were able to shoot up the gun a fair bit, we were pushed back. The militia then went in and retreated in short order. While the regulars stood and took it and were chewed up for their efforts, the militia ran away preserving most of their strength.

Let's try the town instead.

We had been under harassing fire from Sharpe's younger brother and the Militia were proving decidedly ineffectual against the gun. We switched targets to the town. Above you can see the remnants of our regulars resting on the landing beach as the reasonably intact militia tries to clear the buildings.

Reinforcements for all!
This shot is from much later in the game. Both sides have received reinforcements including an American unit right next to the gun emplacement as part of a special deployment roll. Of course they took one look into that big black muzzle and hightailed into the wheat field upper left. Here they were able to occupy British reinforcements for the rest of the game. We have more troops in the town and are close to clearing it out.

At the whistle, we were a couple of turns short of the scenario limit but had got all our troops landed including a cannon. the town was cleared but not occupied but the British still held the high ground with fresh troops. So not exactly a success for the American side but better than the historical outcome.

The rules were not the ones the GM wanted to use initially and none of us was familiar with them. After reading them again there were many things we were doing wrong but since that was happening on both sides, it cancelled out.  An enjoyable recreation of a famous Canadian battle.

Next section

CanGames Day 3 Part One the other games

Again there were a great number of participation games running on Sunday. I did a quick tour of the tables before I got stuck into my games. First up is a trio of Warhammer Fantasy shots. This game has a soft spot in my heart because I played a fair bit of second edition. I have yet to get sucked into the current cult.There was a tournament on bringing out a number of interesting armies.

Warhammer Fantasy

Warhammer fantasy

Warhammer Fantasy

 I was also able to grab a shot of the Phaser Lock game. Many nice looking ship models but none of my favourite, the classic Trek destroyer.

Phaser Lock
Next up Queenston Heights - 1812

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