15 December 2010

Best of 2010 - 15mm Edition

And now for the presentation that nobody was looking forward to (mainly because I just invented it today) - the Basement Gaming Bunker Best of 2010 Awards!

Okay, so the recipients don't actually receive any kind of fancy trophy or certificate (unless they REALLY want me to make one). Mostly I want to use this as a chance to review a dozen or so items in one simple post. Honorable Mentions are awarded to items that I don't actually own yet but intend to do so as soon as the budget allows.

So here we go...

-Best New Figures. Without a doubt, this was the toughest category. After much deliberation I declare the Sepulvedan Resistance Heroes from Khurasan to be this year's overall winners. The reason for this is the sheer number of reactions from 28mm fans who couldn't believe these were actually 15mm sculpts.
Honorable mention: the Orion Republic troops from Blue Moon Manufacturing. I love what little of their product I've acquired so far, and intend to add these to my collection early in 2011.

-Best Old Figures. I've invented this category for items that have been on the market for a few years and simply don't seem to get the love that they deserve. While there were several good candidates from the Laserburn and Asgard ranges at 15mm.co.uk, I am presenting the award to the “Buckethead” infantry in RAFM’s ex-Citadel line. Something about these guys' Rogue Trader-esque appearance just made them an absolute necessity for my collection (and yes, Mark H., you can mock me as much as you want for this!).

-Worst Figure Poses. Many of us have lamented the unrealistic or static poses that have plagued sci-fi wargaming for so long. I'm giving special recognition to one particular line of figures this year. The reason I'm calling these specific minis out is because everything else from this manufacturer, especially in terms of pose and design, has been simply fantastic. And the designs of these figures is also wonderful, or I would never have purchased them in the first place. I'm talking about the Blockhead Battlesuits from Critical Mass Games. Neat figures, great armor, cool weapons... but what the hell are they shooting at? With this many different poses, why in the world are so many of them trying to burn the worms? I haven't decided how I'm going to paint mine yet, it's fairly obvious that they will be some form of interstellar pest control.

-Best New Vehicle. Just as tough of a category as Best New Figures. I ended up with some pretty great items from GZG, Khurasan, and Critical Mass Games this year, but I have to give the award to Rebel Minis for the Earthforce and Titan Marine HAMR Suits.
Honorable mention: Combat Wombat's Bullfrog Lander. A must-add item for early 2011.

-Best Old Vehicle. Again, I'm awarding this to an older model that is never worth overlooking. Old Crow Products' Gladius tank/Glaive APC (grav propulsion variants) are the winners.

-Most Enjoyable Rules System. This was actually the easiest award for me to give: the FUBAR rules by Craig Cartmell (of which I was a contributor) have resulted in some of the most enjoyable wargames I've ever played. And I love how easy it is to create new supplements and variations without completely destroying the simple elegance of the system. Anybody who hasn't taken a look at these yet should be ashamed of themselves. They are one page long. You can find time to read through it!

-Most Complete Rules System. There are obviously times when you don't want to sit down and invent special rules for every mini in your collection, or you want to see a ready-made campaign or solo play system. USE ME from 15mm.co.uk accomplishes all that and more, and for a very reasonable price.

-Best Starter/Combo Deal. I created this category to recognize Micropanzer Studios' new 15mm Sci-Fi SAS line. While these are now available as single packs, Jason originally offered them as a 51-mini starter deal for $25. For 50 cents a mini we received some excellent sculpts and a great variety in poses and weapons. I look forward to seeing how his product range expands over the next few years - he has some VERY promising concept sketches.

-Best New Terrain. A fairly slim category at this point. Which I can't complain... I tried to get my own buildings out a few months ago but found I just couldn't mold and cast them to my personal standards. But enough about my miserable failures, and onward to others' resounding successes. The award for this year goes to Ground Zero Games for their colony shacks.
Honorable mention: also in the shantytown genre (must be a theme for me this year) I wish to recognize Battle Work Studio's Startown Slums line of buildings. I need to get my hands on a set!

-Cleanest Casting. I wanted some special recognition for the miniatures that required absolutely no preparation work whatsoever before I primed and painted them. First place goes to the Rebel Minis Earthforce HAMR Suits (main body), and second place goes to Critical Mass Games for the ARC Fleet line of buildings. Great work on both product lines!

-Worst Casting. This rotten tomato goes to 15mm.Co.Uk - specifically to the Law Officer Bikes from the Laserburn line. Most of the Laserburn and Asgard line still seems to be pretty viable based on the numerous other quality minis I purchased from them this year. But of the three bikes I ordered, only one was barely salvageable. The other two are going to end up in a rubble terrain pile. If there is no way to remake this mold then the model needs to be retired ASAP. But I will happily say that this mini was not at all a good representation of the Laserburn range - I've had nothing but clean castings outside of those bikes.

That wraps it up for 2010. Congratulations to all the winners... may you keep accepting my money for years to come! And just to keep things moving forward:

-Most Anticipated for 2011. I would like to list the things that have been announced (or at least mentioned) by the various manufacturers in 15mm Sci-Fi:
Minis: Blue Moon Manufacturing's range is supposed to grow (everything we saw this year was considered to be pre-release), Rebel Minis has announced command troops for the Titan Marines line, and Ground Zero Games has announced NAC Power Armor, UNSC expansion, and further resculpts of their older ranges. All of these will be welcomed with open arms!
Vehicles: Again we have tons of good stuff on the horizon, but I'm giving the ultimate nod to Khurasan for the Federal Army vehicle range that has been previewed.
Rules System: Tomorrow's War by Ambush Alley Games/Osprey Publishing and Gruntz by Inrepose.

So my question to you - what have been your favorite releases in 2010?


12 December 2010

Review and showcase - Khurasan Space Demons

One of the first lines that caught my eye in 15mm is Khurasan's line of Space Demons (Giger-inspired Aliens), but I wasn't ready to purchase them until I was confident in my ability to give them a proper paint job. Cacique Caribe over at TMP posted a tutorial about his own method, and it looked and sounded very feasible. So I ordered a "starter bundle" consisting of a Queen, two packs of Assault Warriors, and a pack of Hammerheads.

The minis are fantastic - the web store photos simply cannot do them justice. The poses are aggressive and varied, the detail is unbelievably good, and they required almost no cleanup. Getting them glued onto bases (3/4" washers) and primed was a quick process.

Then I hit the local hobby shop for some metallic sprays. The painting technique calls for the entire miniature to be painted with a metallic (spray is the easiest way) followed by a straight-out-of-the-bottle wash of Citadel Badab Black. In his original post Cacique Caribe used Testor's Arctic Blue. I decided to go for some variety with my own Demons... if nothing else, it will make distinguishing them on the tabletop far simpler. So I sprayed eight Assault Warriors as a test, let the spray dry for an hour, then hit them with the Badab Black wash. The results were everything promised... it actually took me longer to finish the bases using my ash waste/urban rubble formula than it did to paint the figures themselves. The test eight took about 45 minutes to complete, and the finishing touches to the bases were applied after the wash dried overnight. All in all, I'd say it was less than three hours' work (not counting drying times) start to finish to do all 25 minis.

I used Testor's Model Master Turquoise Metallic on the Assault warriors. It's a far brighter finish than fans of the Alien films are used to, but I think it's a fantastic effect on the models.

Testor's Arctic Blue was used on these Hammerheads. I don't consider these to be completely finished just yet... as soon as I choose my "bio acid" color, I'm going to put droplets of that color on the "spitters" on either side of the head. When I eventually add a Colossus to this army it will be this same color.

For the queen I went with Burgundy metallic. This is also the color that I will use on the Nymphs when I eventually get a few packs of them.

I would also like to add a King and a couple packs of Infiltrator Warriors to the mix.. I'll probably use a purple metallic on them as an homage to GW's original Genestealer color scheme. But what I have finished now is more than enough Space Demons to play small skirmish games, or to use with Paper Make It's Space Base for some Space Hulk style action. I can't wait to get more... these are by far the easiest and most enjoyable paint jobs I've ever done!


11 December 2010

Back to blogging - and shopping!

Sorry for my absence these past few weeks... I was out of town for some military training (which I don’t like to announce in advance - that’s not something that needs to be public knowledge!) and have had a busy time at home and work since I returned.

I do have a few updates to post over the coming days... a USE ME battle report, a gallery of Khurasan Space Demons, and a new project - a complete 15mm sci-fi army for under $45! In the meantime, everyone should take advantage of the 15mm Christmas sales happening now:

Rebel Minis - 20% off all product, including the infantry and dropship in my banner pic!
Ground Zero Games - a free bag of goodies and discount voucher for later use.
RAFM - 20% everything through Sunday, December 12th (code CHRS2010).
Brigade Models - 15% off everything.


18 October 2010

Review - Paper Make It! Space Base

Paper Make It! recently advertised their Space Base on TMP. I'm usually not one for paper terrain, but this was something different - a set of rooms and corridors, in the vein of Space Hulk, Doom: The Boardgame, and Space Crusade. It looked fantastic from the pics on the website, and had one thing that set it apart from most other downloadable corridors: it is available in both 28mm and 15mm versions.

I'd been curious for some time now about PMI's other products (notably
Shuffler), so I decided to order the 15mm Space Base as a demo piece. If nothing else, this would give me a ready-to-use rooms and corridors set for my growing 15mm sci-fi collection. The PDF pages looked great on screen, but how would that translate to the printer? Let me show you!

And this isn't really maximizing the full potential of this product. I printed these on recycled cardstock using a color laser printer. If this was printed on a inkjet using a higher quality paper or photo stock, these would look absolutely fantastic (and probably be more durable). The PDF prints eight pages with a very wide assortment of halls, junctions, and rooms. By only printing the main set once (no repeats yet), you get more setup variety than in any of the similar board games.

To make these sections a bit more durable, I used spray adhesive to mount them onto black presentation board from Hobby Lobby. This made them just as durable as any of the "professional" board games. Here's a shot of the mounted components and a comparison of the Space Base against Space Hulk (3rd Edition) and Doom.

The only thing that might be "missing" from this set is a way to interlock the tiles. I thought this would be a problem, but I haven't encountered much slippage on the table yet. I've already played a half dozen games with these rooms using the FUBAR First-Person Shooter variant (currently available in the Forge Of War Yahoo group) and I think they work brilliantly.

So if you've been looking for a great set of rooms and corridors to simulate your favorite alien-infested ships or demon-infested complexes, grab a set of these! A little time with the printer, a few hours with some glue and a knife, and you'll be very impressed with the results.


17 October 2010

Hammer's Slammers-esque 15mm Force

This is what happens when I paint miniatures and watch college football at the same time...

I started a project like this with 40k Space Marines a few years back. It never took off (no surprise, since I already had armies coming out of my ears), but I always wanted to revisit it at some point. Getting into 15mm Sci-Fi and away from the 40k universe made it a bit less practical, but the desire was still there.

I also wanted to do a Hammer's Slammers centered around the excellent Old Crow minis. I picked up a Blower tank, a Combat Car, and a pack of Jeeps this summer, but never did decide on a paint scheme or what to use for accompanying infantry. I also picked up a few packs of NAC Infantry from Ground Zero Games earlier this year... same problem: I never knew how I was going to paint them or how they were going to fit into my various gaming worlds.

Inspiration finally hit me last week, and I painted a sample NAC rifle trooper in Nebraska Cornhusker colors. I liked it and decided to finish a squad, along with some vehicle support. Originally I was going to use the famous Matchbox SWAT vehicle for these, and only use this force in fun one-off games. After basecoating the SWAT vehicle, I noticed the Slammers stuff sitting on my desk, and figured hey, why not?

I used Vallejo game color and black Wonder Wash on this project. It's also the first sci-fi force I've ever finished with green flock. Even though all my tables are snow or desert, it just didn't seem right not putting the Huskers on green turf. :)

In my Conquest System game world, these will be a for-hire mercenary branch of the Aurora Corporation. Or if I would rather game in an established setting, there's no reason I couldn't use these as Hammer's Slammers right out of the book.

I have another eight NAC rifle infantry to add, along with a pack of the GZG one-man skimmers. Other than that I'll have to shop before I can expand this army. Looks like Old Crow and/or GZG are getting next month's gaming budget...


10 October 2010

15mm Patrol - Felids and Protolene Vehicles

After posting this entry, I decided to make a change to my Khurasan Felid paint scheme. The blue and gray appearance was too similar to the Fenris Gray used on my Critical Mass Protolene infantry - and we certainly can't have dogs and cats looking anything alike! I repainted the Felid armor with Citadel Foundation Hormagaunt Purple and liked the result.

I decided it was time to add some vehicles to this growing force. In my Conquest System gaming world, the Felids play the role of the Sulians, who come from a very mountainous world. The Khurasan Lion transport (intended for use with their Felids) is a great model, and I'm sure I will find use for them later. But my Sulians need walkers for rocky and uneven terrain. I looked at the available 15mm walkers and chose the Protolene Khanate vehicles from Critical Mass Games. The smaller Ayame battlesuits are perfect light vehicles, while the Marrok battlesuits will fill the tank role within this force. The Tamaska/Fenrir is just a little too canine for this army, so I'm still not sure what to use in the transport role. I'm actually considering making the Sulians an all drop-pod based force just to give myself some gaming variety, but nothing is settled yet.

Here's a glimpse of the finished patrol (larger picture here since Blogger and I aren't getting along today). The specific minis used are a nine-cat Khurasan Felid light battle circle (I either didn't receive the tenth cat, or it fell victim to a piece of predatory furniture), three Ayame scout battlesuits, and a Marrok hunter battlesuit. The next additions will be more infantry (another light circle, a heavy circle, and a baron), and eventually I'd like to add another set of Ayame scout battlesuits, a set of Ayame predator close combat battlesuits, and another Marrok. I'm thinking the next Marrok will be a scout variant, and I will pop one cannon off my Hunter and assemble two complete Marroks with different weapons on each arm.

I also need to cut a new base for my existing Marrok. I just needed something quick to assemble and paint the model, so I grabbed a handy scrap of acrylic. I'm going to cut a 50mm x 50mm square base for the final version, so it will be a legal model in Alien Squad Leader along with my usual games of FUBAR and USE ME.

Look for a report soon to test this patrol in battle!


08 October 2010

Snow Terrain - Step By Step

A quick read through my old pictures and battle reports, and anyone can see that I prefer desert and urban environments in my wargames. I decided it was time for a change! The fictional universe where I've been playing (most of) my 15mm games - the Conquest System - has around twenty planets and moons that were terraformed by the lowest bidder. As such, I've decided each world has a fairly harsh environment; most are too hot, some are too cold. Which means any struggle for resources in the Conquest System will involve some snow planets. I needed enough snow terrain to fight these battles upon.

I tried a few new techniques for my snow, building on skills I've learned doing grassy and desert hills over the years. Since these will be used predominately by 15mm miniatures, I went with 1/2" styrofoam as the basis. The pieces I used in this set were packing material from my toddler's play kitchen - low density, but exactly the thickness I wanted. And easily handled by my trusty old Wonder Cutter.
Then it was a matter of cutting them to the exact shape I need. My favorite commercially-made foam hills are the Acute Hill Pack from War-Zone terrain (3/4 of the way down this page) - well worth the money if you don't to take the time or deal with the mess of making your own. And War-Zone uses good blue insulation foam, so it's quite a bit more durable than the stuff I make. But since I only get four or five small games in a month, these should last a little while. For my initial snow terrain set (which will be a 2' x 2' skirmish board), I cut four acute hills (one with two levels), rough triangles with a bit of a waviness to the cuts.
Nothing pretty, but it works for a quick snow hill. Once the hill is cut it just needs to be painted and textured. I use very inexpensive Wal-Mart craft paints for most of my terrain. I covered the entire hill with (thinned) Folk Art Medium Gray, then painted the entire top with flat white. To add a little bit of depth to it, I drybrushed the "wavy' edges of the hills with the same white.
The next part was really where I had to learn a new technique. For green flocking and desert sand, all I had done at this step was paint 50/50 white glue/water over the top surface, use a dollar-store shaker to apply the texture material, shake away the excess, and seal it when dry. But the Woodland Scenics snow that I bought is far too light, and it floated right off of the mixture. So I ended up pre-mixing it into a paste - it was equal parts snow texture, white glue, and water. It had the consistency of a dry, sugary frosting, and was applied very roughly with an old brush.
I'm fairly pleased with the result. The brush gave the mix a bit of a deeper texture - the end result is very different from simply applying sand and painting it white. I think these will survive just long enough for me to see if I like playing games on snow terrain. If I like it when these start to crumble, I'll probably replace them with the War-Zone stuff (just as I did with my grasslands stuff a few years ago).

And now for the gaming surface itself. I've been playing my recent desert games on 12" x 12" vinyl floor tiles. I figured this should work pretty well for snow terrain. I bought four of these today. The next step will be to give them a very light spray of white paint, and then lightly apply some of the snow terrain. Some of the beige and gray texture should look good peeking through the snow, so I'm not going to go quite as heavy or thick as I did on the hills.
So it's almost ready. A little more work, and I'll have a 2' x 2' snow table with a small assortment of rocky hills. When I expand snow games to a larger table, this set will serve alongside the Critical Mass Games Otillium Refinery set (all of which will have snow bases). A table like that will do a great job repeating some of the fossil fuel battles fought in the Conquest System.

I hope to have a USE ME battle report on the finished mini-table very soon!


02 October 2010

More Rules Fun Pt. 2 - USE ME 15mm Sci-Fi System

15mm.co.uk released USE ME (Ultra Simple Engine for Miniature Engagements) this month, for the very tasty price of £3.50 (about $5.50 US). It promised to be an all-encompassing system - battle rules, army lists, off-table support, campaign setup, and solo play, all in 32 pages. I was quite skeptical, but for that price, I figured it was certainly worth a read. I've had it for two weeks now, and am not disappointed at all in this system.

In fact, I am extremely pleased.

Here is a breakdown of the game system:


This game is specifically designed for 15mm miniatures, in terms of movement and weapon ranges. I'm sure it could be scaled up or down with some simple halving or doubling of ranges and distances, but I already have plenty of 28mm rules. In terms of the size of games you can play... I've only played three smallish games so far (up to the "starter" scenario of 20 light troops and five vehicles vs 30 heavy troops), but it appears USE ME will handle much larger engagements with absolute ease.


First and foremost, I am pleased to report that USE ME uses nothing but ordinary six-sided dice (and a few basic counters) for all of its mechanics. That means you have no need to purchase a bunch of funny shapes just to play a basic game... it's ready to go with something I'm sure you already have. The gameplay itself follows a pretty straightforward initiative-activations-resolution sequence but with a twist - the Elan rating. Despite it's funny name (it sounds like something Acura Motors would sell!), it's a pretty clever stat that governs most aspects of combat and initiative. Thinking of it as "troop qualiity" would help compare it to some other systems.

While many other initiative-activation games allow you to select any unit, USE ME activates units based on their Elan ratings - high Elan troops take their activations before low Elan troops. The only mechanic I can compare this to is the Initiative stat in the 40k Assault phase. It works extremely well! It makes sense to me that the most trained and skilled units will be more decisive and take quicker battlefield action than inexperienced troops.

Combat itself is pretty straightforward - roll to hit, then roll weapon penetration vs target defense. Units hit their targets by scoring 4+ on a D6 roll (after some pretty simple modifiers). Penetration vs defense is a D6 roll off between the firer and his target (again, with some simple modifiers). Close combat is handled by simply removing the To Hit roll and rolling penetration vs defense.

Targets are either winged, struck, or killed outright. These effects last the rest of the game, but are handled with simple counters. There isn't much bookkeeping required outside of the counters, which is what makes me think this game will scale up to company-size engagements without bogging down. There are only four tables you will ever have to look at to play a game of USE ME, which means there isn't much page-flipping in game. In fact, I've already seen a complete quick reference sheet that prints on half a page... exactly what "quick reference" should be!


There is a two-page guide to creating forces - complete with points costs. Rather than saying this mini is a Muster Private armed with a Moth Rifle, you would select an Elan 3, Movement 4 Infantry with a Standard Rifle. This game is a bit like Alien Squad Leader in this way... it abstracts troops, weapons, and vehicles to put them in a few simple categories. While this may lack a little bit of distinct flavor among different armies, it's a great way to make sure forces are fairly well balanced in the game.


A great deal of the book is dedicated to rules such as off-table long-range artillery or supporting spacecraft fire, arrival of reinforcements and drop troops, linking games together (which can even keep some troops in a "winged" status from game to game), and how to govern opposing forces in solo games. Again, it's amazing how much is packed into such a small book! I've now run the solo rules against a defensive and an invading force, and they worked perfectly with such a "one track minded" opponent. I'm going to come up with a neutral objective scenario to really put them to the test!


No system will ever be immune to gripes and complaints. USE ME is clearly designed to be a shooting game. The weapons table has categories to cover every type of firearm, energy blaster, missile, or mortar you could imagine... but no close combat weapons at all. That means you won't be able to use these rules effectively against "bug" armies, like the Starship Troopers movie or Aliens-inspired games. In fact, the lack of close combat detail makes for some interesting situations in the game. The same penetration table is used in close combat as in shooting... which means an autocannon or mortar crew actually scores higher against dedicated assault troops.

Something else that must be considered when preparing for battle is the resilience of heavy vehicles. Infantry with heavy weapons will need nothing short of a dice miracle to even scratch a heavy vehicle, and cannot destroy them outright. If you are going to run vehicles, make sure there are vehicles on both sides of the game if any are to be Heavy or Super Heavy. Otherwise, just make your tanks into Light Vehicles with Armor, or it will be a very lopsided game!


USE ME is designed to be a fast-play set of rules for which you will need minimal preparation, bookkeeping, or special rules. As such, it makes for a great basic wargame. It will never go into extreme science fiction details like net-centric warfare, battlefield intelligence grids, fighting in very extraterrestrial environments, etc... if you want a game with that much detail, you will probably be in the mood for something like Tomorrow's War or 5150. But if you want a quick pickup game to play in an hour, this is exactly what you want - it holds its own extremely well against Forge of War and Mutants and Death Ray Guns, and is far more approachable than Fast and Dirty or Chain Reaction. USE ME is, by far, the most complete one-book game system I've seen in my eighteen years of tabletop wargaming.

FINAL SCORE: 8 out of 10, would jump to a 9 out of 10 if a close combat fix could be added.


PS: There is an alternate review at The Orky 15mm Blog, if you want another opinion!

29 September 2010

Some 15mm Paint Tests

As a follow-up post to the 15mm showcase, I thought I'd share some of the color schemes I've come up with for my other in-progress forces.
First up we have some Felids from Khurasan Miniatures. In my Conquest System setting, these miniatures are playing the part of one of the first races mankind made contact with outside of Earth, and has enjoyed a long-lasting peaceful relationship. However, the Sulians have been in space longer than mankind, and are very aware of some of the greater threats to the galaxy. While the current Earth government has turned a deaf ear, many of the Conquest System's independent corporations are listening to their warnings.

Their paint scheme is pretty basic... Citadel Foundation Astronomican Grey uniforms with Mordian Blue armor segments. The heads and tails are painted with Macharius Solar Orange and Deneb Stone "spots."
I've been going back and forth on the idea of playing 40k in 15mm ever since I crossed over to the "one true scale." The decision I made is that I should make a few small 40k-like forces... nothing that absolutely MUST be 40k, but something that would do in a pinch. The Universalist infantry from Blue Moon Manufacturing are something that can be an Eldar proxy without actually needing to be Eldar. I went with a basic Biel-tan scheme to match my Epic Eldar force. While I haven't decided how to use these forces in the Conquest System yet, they are still useful for one-off games.
After a year in the scale, I finally added some of the 15mm models that caught my eye in the first place. Critical Mass Games' Arc Fleet Light Infantry are one of my favorite lines in any scale, let alone 15mm. I decided to use a 40k Dark Angels color scheme for my Arc Fleet troops. The light infantry, other than the helmets, appear to be wearing what 40k would call carapace armor. So I used my DA scout paint scheme - bleached bone and DA green. A question to everyone - is the left or the right a better tabletop mini? The Critical Mass models are absolutely covered in detail. The left example simply uses a wash over most of the Bleached Bone, leaving the details unpainted. I can put these on a table very quickly. On the right model I picked out more of the straps/pouches/armor plates with the DA green. While I think it looks a little better, I'm not convinced it's worth the extra time spent on each model.
I've really struggled to find a scheme I like for the Critical Mass Protolene Khanate miniatures. I knew immediately that these were going to be my Roghan forces for the Conquest System - a race from a snow-covered world that has been hunted nearly to the point of extinction by a vastly superior alien empire. So until the day they arrived, my intention was to paint their heads in a sort of Siberian Husky or Malamute color scheme. But the problem, as I realized when I started to paint, was that there was no convincing way to do snow armor and a snow carnivore body on the same mini. So I chose a brown fairly similar to a grizzly bear for their heads, and a color scheme centered around Fenris Gray for the uniforms. The rifle I repainted four times... black, steel, bronze, and finally white. I'm still not happy with the result for the weapon, but I think the rest of the mini turned out pretty well.

I'm also happy with my snow-world terrain piece, and hope to have an entire table of these in the next few weeks.
To reward myself for finishing so many miniatures over the past few months, I grabbed a pack of Astagar Fighters from Critical Mass Games. These were nothing but a just-for-fun set of minis, but I actually think they will find use in some of the filthy spaceport settings I've developed around the Conquest System. I also think they may be useful in some Space Hulk-style shipboard games, but that will be covered in a later post.

As always, feedback is welcome!


26 September 2010

15mm Army Showcase

A few months back I posted an entry reviewing Rebel Minis' 15mm Titan Marine infantry, with a few pics of the painted results. I thought it would be fun to show how that army is coming together.

One of the things I love most about 15mm sci-fi is the ability to mix and match figures and vehicles from different manufacturers. I went out of my way to accomplish just that with this force. In my own gaming universe (the Conquest System), this army is the corporate military force of the Conquest Development Corporation. CDC forces (usually called Storm Troopers) exist for two reasons... the first is to develop and test CDC weapons technology (which is in turn sold to both Earth and to some alien governments). Their second purpose is to serve as an available military force. Originally these military duties were limited to security for CDC's vast facilities, but eventually this grew into a force that could be purchased when necessary. Earth has found that CDC Storm Troopers accomplish some missions far more quickly than its own military forces, and contracts them when lightning attacks are required.

The force itself, obviously, is centered around Rebel Minis' Titan Marines infantry. One of the minis received a head swap from the Ground Zero Games head sprues. I still need to add some heavy weapons to the mix, but I have enough to play a basic games. I'm also thinking I would like to add some power armor, but I haven't selected the correct miniatures to represent them. Ground Zero Games has some good options, but none really match the Titan Marines' aesthetic.

Speaking of GZG... I used their Cyclops Battlesuits as a mobile recon/strike unit. With the jump packs and weapons load, these are ideal for sabotage missions, direct assaults on protected targets, or supporting infantry in terrain-heavy environments. I also envision these as having the absolute best in battlefield sensors and communications. Anyone who has read the grid warfare section in Tomorrow's War knows exactly what I'm talking about.

For the open battlefield, I wanted an armored force that looked fast, deadly, and advanced. I bought a grav-option Gladius from Old Crow as my first option. I love the appearance, the cleanness of the sculpt, and how well it painted... but I'm not sure it's an aesthetic match for the Cyclops battlesuits or last night's addition (see below). So before I buy an entire armored company from Old Crow, I need to browse through all of the grav tank options once again to make sure there aren't any closer matches.

Since the CDC Storm Troopers are a quick strike force, it makes perfect sense to me that they would utilize dropships as their primary infantry transport. Force XXI used to make my favorite dropship, but he went on hiatus before I could pick any up. I like the Old Crow and GZG units, but neither matched my vision of the CDC forces. So I went back to Rebel Minis and looked in their Earthforce Marines aircraft... they were exactly what i wanted. I think they match the overall aesthetic of the Titan Marines and Cyclops Suits pretty well. I have an army in progress using the Earthforce Marines, but since it is going to be Earth's government forces in my world, I figured it would have a slightly less advanced dropship/gunship option. I think I'll use the Old Crow models with those troops. Though I must admit... Combat Wombat's upcoming ship also looks pretty darn good.

So what's next for this army? I certainly need to buy some heavy weapon infantry and add it along with a Saber Gunship (which I already own but need to paint). And like I said... I want to take one more look around the world at the grav tank options to see if there is a better fit. Assuming there isn't, I'll order two more Gladius tanks in the same configuration I already used, a third with the missile turret, and a fourth with the new support turret option. I may add some Glaive APCs for those missions where a dropship isn't practical. I'm also thinking that I want to add some kind of robot or drone to each infantry squad, but haven't remotely settled on one yet.

I'm open to criticism and suggestions!


19 September 2010

FUBAR Battle Report - Clear the desert!

After an extremely productive weekend of painting and making hills, I decided that t
oday I should play a quick game of FUBAR as a reward. I still haven't finished assembling my 15mm forces to their completion, but that's hardly an excuse not to play, is it?

BACKGROUND - The Copper Moon,
five clicks south of the Bronze Harbor starport

A local ore hauler informed the Bronze Harbor Police Force that a hostile group of alien thugs had been raiding their shipments. A quick flyover by a spy drone revealed that the aliens were hiding out in a few desert shacks just outside of the starport. A few pictures were taken, and it was clear that there were around eighteen of them, all well-armed.

A patrol was quickly dispatched to handle the situation. The patrol sent included one heavy patrol car (armed with three tribarrel autoguns), an assault team (consisting of two shield/baton troops, two baton-armed canine handlers, and two canines) and a support team (consisting of two grenade launchers and two assault rifles). Normally the assault and support teams would be mounted in armored troop carriers, but their commander hadn't requisitioned them yet (I need to place an order with Ground Zero Games!).


The patrol car hit the alien encampment with complete surprise. They found that six of the aliens were patrolling the camp, and opened fire upon them right away. The alien leader then sent a second group of six over the ridge to attempt a crossfire against the invader. They fired, but were unable to damage the patrol car's armor. The alien leader snapped the power claw onto his arm and moved to deal with the situation himself, only to be faced by the assault and support teams.

The battle was quick and brutal. The alien leader engaged the police teams right away, but the canines and power batons, supported by the grenade launchers and assault rifles, were too much. But one dog, his handler, and a riot troop were killed in the assault. One of the alien teams broke away from the patrol car to seek revenge, while the other team killed the three gunners in the patrol car. The police teams tried to stand and fight, but their marksmanship and fighting ability wasn't sufficient against so many aliens. At the end of the melee, four of the aliens were still alive, and both police teams were slaughtered. The damaged and unarmed patrol car limped back to Bronze Harbor to report that the mission had failed.


The more that I look at other rules systems, the more convinced I am that FUBAR is my primary game. This fight took about 30 minutes to play out, but it didn't feel like I was missing any level of detail, nuance of fighting conditions, or make me miss another game system. It was a bit of a fun scenario, one I will definitely run again as I expand these two forces.