Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Frickin' Christmas. . .

. . . from Jack and the the Cluck Amok family to yours. May your dice always come up (choose one):

• ones

• sixes

• tens

• twenties

• other - I can't cover every game and die-type!

Happy Holidays and thanks for visiting my new space.

See ya!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Barsoom. . . Old School to New School?

I discovered John Carter and Barsoom in the mid-70's, while in high school, courtesy of the Science Fiction Book Club's editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs' eleven "Mars" novels, complete with cover paintings and interior illustrations by Frank Frazetta. I have been an unabashed fan ever since.

In the late 70's, Heritage Models, Inc. released a series of licensed 25mm miniatures and two manuals with which one could fight one's way across Barsoom. The manual pictured above includes rules for army-level combat with both air and ground forces as well as stand alone rules for ship-to-ship combat and a simple campaign system. The other manual (which I also own), the Adventure Gaming Handbook, features "man-to-man action rules" with a heavy dose of role-play. The mechanics are very dated, but both manuals have lots of good ideas for skirmishing and campaigning.

What I wanted to game was the ship-to-combat combat. The rules are functional; there are several classes of vessel ranging from "dreadnaughts" to scout flyers, movement is regulated by hexes and "elevation" is modeled, combat uses the good old CRT matrix and damage is recorded by checking off boxes on a "ship chart," with the occasional "critical hit" doing extra-fun-type damage. Some shots of the inside of the Manual:

It was the early 90's before I actually played the game (as The Baron may remember). There weren't any dedicated Barsoomian miniatures available, so I kit-bashed some "Space Battleship Yamato" plastic models along with some of the plastic minis from the classic "Space 1889" game. The interesting design sense of the Disney John Carter movie notwithstanding, I fully subscribe to the "sailing battleship" premise for the capital ships.  Built and primed, here's how they looked in the half-dozen or so games we played before we moved on:

And then, twenty years later, New School Barsoom seems to have suddenly dropped out of the sky. It's called "Leviathans."

Leviathans doesn't know it's Barsoomian. It describes itself as Steampunk. I don't intend to review the game itself, which is actually quite good; you can learn more about it at Monsters in the Sky and Gameboardgeek. The rules have a similar feel to the Barsoomian Battle Manual, but are much more streamlined and very pretty to look at. See:

The rules could probably be used for Barsoomian air combat with just a few tweaks (bombing and boarding), but it is the models that hooked me. They are so very close to what I imagine the giant flyers of Barsoom to look like. Here is the French fleet included in the core game:

 And the British:

I don't even mind the "Tesla Coil" apparatus in the hulls of the ships; who knows what "radium engines" and buoyancy tanks for the "Eighth Barsoomian Ray" might look like? Of course the "stacks" have to go, and a bit of streamlining might be in order. . . thus:

We'll see where it goes from here. . .

See ya!  

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Spotlight on the People's Collective

Here is a look at the air force of the People's Collective, the Christian socialist nation in the Crimson Skies universe situated in what was once the upper midwest of the United States and part of Canada; specifically Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Manitoba and part of Saskatchewan. As the Collective's principal enemies are The Industrial Sates of America and the Republic of Texas, they serve as the generic military "bad guys" in our game universe.

The Collective is represented by the the militia squadron, the Wichita Windstorm, based obviously enough in Wichita, Kansas. The squadron is built around a single Scout-class Zeppelin, the Windshear:

Model info: this is a stock build of the Revell 1/200 scale Zeppelin NT plastic kit. I added turrets and guns along the hull sides.

The squadron's aircraft are organized into three Wings. Red Wing consists of one Stalwart and two Defenders, all Collective-designed and -built planes:

Blue Wing is organized just like Red Wing:

Yellow Wing has some unusual assets for a Collective squadron; aircraft "purchased" outside the Collective. The light, fast Buccaneer performs scout and reconnaissance duty while the lumbering, armored Phalanx is used in ground attack roles:

And glider-borne tanks! The Collective has been experimenting with "break-away" gliders as a means to drop heavy support weapons into border hot-spots when needed:

Now we have enough aircraft to play. . .

See ya!

Monday, November 26, 2012

My Single Dedicated HOTT Army. . .

As I noted in an earlier post, DBA (and the Baron) got me back into wargaming after a 10-year-plus hiatus. When I moved to the Twin Cities the first time, Jeff Bolton introduced me to HOTT (Hordes of the Things), and then convinced me to build an army in 28mm. At the time I was firmly entrenched in a DBA/DBM 15mm universe. To get to critical mass quickly with this "first" 28mm army, I traded some stuff to Lead Addict for some plastic GW skeletons (and some older metal) that were in various states of completion. I spruced up the Addict horde, added some odds and ends that I found myself and soon had this 24-point Undead army ready to go:

A closer look at the elements?

3 Elements of Knights at 2 points each:

4 Elements of Hordes at 1 point each:

1 Behemoth (evil treeman) at 4 points:

4 more Hordes at 1 point each, because an Undead army can never have too may Hordes: 

An element of Beasts (rabid wolves) guards the other flank at 2 points: 

A Magician General, in this case a "Vampire" Dominatrix (from Foundry) leads the army for the final 4 points:

And then there are some alternate elements for those "special" tactical needs.

2 elements of Flyers at 2 points each:

An element of Sneakers (Dwarf skeletons from Fenryll) at 1 point and 1 element of Shooters (Black Tree maybe?) at 2 points: 

And Lurkers, of course (GW and Reaper), at 1 point apiece:

And last but not least, my favorite "Three-headed Undead Ogre" that I play as either a Hero or a Behemoth, at 4 points either way:

I think it's a Ral Partha figure. First time out we played with a house rule. When activated, the owner rolled a D6; on a 1 or 2, Larry was in control so any movement had to be away from enemy; on a 3 or 4 Curly was in control so movement had to be toward the enemy; on a 5 or 6 Moe was in control and the element could be moved as the owner wished.  It was fun. . . once, but really too unpredictable for an expensive 4-point element.

One of the features I really like about HOTT is the Stronghold, an architectural feature that exists simply to be defended, and has its own intrinsic combat factor. The Stronghold lets you put a "castle" on the table and actually fight over it without a lot of complicated siege rules. It's quite abstract, but I like it. I have yet to be involved in a real siege game that I would want to repeat. 

So I built a Stronghold for the Undead, designed to be set at the base edge of the playing surface. I was into HOTT enough now to be thinking about the "theme" for my Undead army. A fan of Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles at the time, I decided my Undead were led by vampires that had been driven out of ancient Egypt and lately taken up residence in Britain. There they could face off against all manner of Celts, Romans, "Britons," Saxons, Vikings and Normans, as well as the Elves and Trolls of Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword.

Then I moved to Tulsa, and introduced a group of the locals to Great Hordes! (GH!)*, our house-ruled big-battle version of HOTT. We played a lot of GH! in Tulsa, and I decided I wanted to "upgrade" my Undead army to better complement the Stronghold and be "truer" to the established theme. And since I am a notoriously slow painter, this decision pretty much made sure this would be my only HOTT army for awhile. . .

The upgrades are the vampiric Prince Kha-Ris, a Magician (actually GW's Zacharias):

An element of Knights (Confrontation minis):


 3 elements of Beasts (from Reaper):

An Aerial Hero; Cruella, as she became known in Tulsa (more Reaper goodness): 

2 Flyers, Cruella's aerial support:

3 Behemoths (a Zombie Wolfen from Confrontation; not sure where the skeletal ogres came from; and a GW Varghulf):

One lonely Lurker so far (the Undead Troll is from Reaper, and the magic user is an old, uh, I mean. . . classic GW mini from the original Addict score):

Artillery (bolt-shooter from Ral-Partha? vampire overseer from Reaper): 

And some straight-up vampires (think Dracula and his warrior brides, from Ral-Partha and Reaper) that I field as a Hero or Blades depending on the need:

Where are all the undead hordes you ask? Next up on the painting table are lots of Celtos skeletons and zombies, along with a few more odds and ends, to fill out this army with the requisite Hordes. If anyone is interested, I could share the painting process on a few skeletons and zombies as I get into them. . .

See ya!

*for more on Great Hordes! you can check out the previous posts with the "Great Hordes" label