27 January 2012

Growing a Skirmish Force into a Full Army

One of the greatest strengths in 15mm Sci Fi: it can be used for games of every size.

At its heart, 15mm is still a battle scale.  But in the last few years, it has grown by leaps and bounds as an option for small (5-10 figures per side) narrative skirmishes.  For awhile, I tried to separate my "skirmish" forces from my "armies."  I've realized this just isn't necessary - a skirmish team might be a great elite unit in a larger force.  So I started matching character figures and elite units to my larger armies.  This month I did just the opposite - took a skirmish force and expanded it into a full-sized army.

These Laserburn Redemptionists were my first few Shadow World figures - featured in the Blasters & Bulkheads article series on Dropship Horizon.  In the still-unfinished background, these represent the elite semi-religious warriors from the Shadow Worlds - a distant region of the galaxy feared for its study and use of mysterious alien artifacts.  I envisioned these figures to be part of an elite inner circle - basically taking the role of the Sith of my unnamed space opera setting.  

A few months went by.  I picked up a ton of goodies from Ravenstar Studios' new Land Core 15mm range.  I was mainly interested in the mecha, but the Stalker walker tank really grew on me.  I was lost for a paint scheme until I saw the Shadow Worlders sitting on my shelf.  Then it hit me... if these guys are the "not-Galactic Empire" in my own universe, why not give them a "not AT-AT" for their vehicles?  In Star Wars, the AT-AT is as much a weapon of terror as it is an armored tank/transport.  The Stalker looked very intimidating when sitting next to my Old Crow, Rebel, and Combat Wombat tanks.  Not a proxy AT-AT, but something that fills the same role and creatively uses the same core idea.  So I tried giving it a similar paint scheme to my earlier figures.

The results?  Well, the colors are bit over-the-top, even by my standards.  The two tone look is pretty cheesy - it might have worked better with just the purple or just the blue-gray.  Or maybe I should have used a camo pattern that incorporated both colors.  But you know what?  It grew on me after a few days, so I decided to develop the army further and see what happened.  The next step, now that I had chosen my vehicles, was to get more boots on the ground.

I still had plenty of unpainted Redemptionist figures... but I really like using them in the role of the elite inner guard.  So what should I use for the Shadow Worlds' rank-and-file infantry?  A look through the lead pile (which had grown after my GZG Christmas order arrived) presented a pretty good option: Islamic Federation infantry with helmets. 

These are great old figures.  Their helmet and weapons work anywhere from near-future to retro pulp to space opera.  And they are ideal cannon fodder for the Redemptionists - very little armor and not a lot of special equipment.  I thought they mixed together quite nicely.

I painted two packs of Islamic Federation infantry.  I'll organize them into teams of eight (just as they came), which can break down into teams of four (the squad support weapon in one team, the heavy weapon in the other).  Combined with the Redemptionists and the Stalker tank, I now have a core army to use in larger one-off games.  Or blend both types of games in a campaign - use the Redemptionists alone in special missions, and then the full army for direct conflicts.  

This is pretty much all the figures I'll need, though a third pack of Islamic Federation isn't out of the question. But a higher priority is adding a second Stalker tank, and then grabbing three Stalker-variant APCs once Ravenstar makes them available.  I just need to decide if I'm going to pain that second Stalker in the same color scheme as the first, or try something a bit less... extravagant.  



  1. In the Army we called it mission creep...it has no official name with miniature collectors other than normal...;-)

    Looking very good by the way!

  2. me likey!!

    Paint scheme on the stalker walker looks very space-operatic

  3. The figures are really nicely painted! Have fun!

  4. That's a nice looking Army Chris.

  5. love the crab-style walker paint job!

  6. Impressive looking army. Good choice of miniatures, they go together nicely.

  7. Well, thanks everyone! You've all convinced me to keep the paint scheme going on my next Stalker tanks. :)