Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Star Army Walkers



A converted AT-43 figure becomes a 15mm walker

I grew up on the Battletech with all the robots stolen from Macross and Dougram Anime, hated the clans, hated the preponderance of the chicken-walker mecha school. I like my robot suits to be classically robot-like. I love early Gundam too, especially the 079 era, and the 8th MS team series. So for my Star Army armor (I don't have room for tank battles) I'm using walkers.

This model is an AT-43 figure that has a bit of a MAK vibe that I like.

With a GZG UNSC Trooper, and 2 battle suits.
Before I painted it though, something had to be done about the guns. I wanted the beam weapon to be more of a gun and less of an underslung bazooka style weapon, so some chopping was in order.

Gun rebuilt
Gun mounted with extra stock
ProCreate hand-sculpted pack and roll,
Karman weapons repurposed as backpack

Once converted, I had to paint it. This was basically painting a 28mm figure, trying to make it look like an AFV. I think it came out good enough. I tried doing some metal -chipped battle damage, but I dont think I'm good enough at it at this scale. Still, he looks great with my GZG UNSC figures so I'm happy with the end result.





For my next conversion, I'll be trying to make a Red Blok Kolossus look like a Cult of Andromeda or Lhurrg mecha!




Friday, 23 September 2011

200 Followers- Prize Time!


There were 33 comments since the comp began, so I split the group into groups of 11 , rolled a D6 for each group, then rolled 2d6-1 to determine the winner.

Group 3 won the first round of dice, then comment number 7.. Which was:

Xerus

Slightly ironic as his comment was:

 "Wow, that is quite a large prize (well, figuratively speaking anyway...) Are you sure you are not going to miss these 'alien infiltrators' as enemies for the Star Army? They do seem appropriate for that."


So Xerus, the answer is no, I won't miss them because they are going to a good home!


Thanks again to everyone who entered, I was really blown away by all the support and good cheer in the comments. And thanks to you all for following the blog and getting us to 200!


 I will certainly be doing another prize again in the future, so until then, keep reading T.S.S :)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

It's Prize Time!


When this blog amassed 100 followers, I gave away a set of CMG Aliens as a prize to a lucky reader.
We have reached 194 as of today and with the amount of stuff I've got waiting in the wings, I think the readership will hit 200 pretty soon. To celebrate this historic occasion, I will be doing a RANDOM DRAW from all followers who leave a comment on the blog between now and the Magic 200th follower joining, with the winner receiving... My painted 15mm.co.uk Octopods!



There are a few more than in the photos, and will make a great OpForce for anyone's existing Sci-fi armies!

Who loves you? Spacejacker loves you.


Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Elder Sign!

Sweet solo goodness
Tonight I was too tired to paint miniatures, but my girlfriend went out for a girl's night so I had the perfect opportunity to test out a solo game of a different sort.

I recently treated myself to Elder sign and Gears of war from Fantasy flight games. Gears of war looks really cool... A card and dice driven co-op/solo battle game... But I think I'd like to paint the (excellent) figures up before I play that.. So Elder sign it was.

Elder sign is also a co-op/solo game, played with custom dice and a variety of cards. I'm too tired to fully explain it after battling Cthulhu (where I got sidetracked and lost my place so started again) and Yig (Who tore Dexter Drake, magician, apart).

But once you get the hang of it, it's a very suspenseful game of resource management and nail-biting rolls of dice. Can you collect enough Elder signs to seal away the evil and win? Or will the Doom track fill up and the Elder God be summoned into the world? (Yes, says Dexter Drake) Either way it's a ton of Lovecraftian fun.. And pretty reasonably priced at around £25 as it has a great deal of replay value.

Highly recommended for the soloist.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

5150 Star Army R.D.S

Pimped out!


Okay, after a lot of thinking, I figured out a squad record sheet replacement that has the following characteristics:

Reusable/Rewritable without pen or pencil.
Small footprint
Easy to read
Easy to make
Easy to share :)

(For a millisecond I thought about making them all deluxe and selling them on RPGnow, but it's such a simple idea that there's probably little point.)
In the spirit of THW pseudo-military acronyms, I christen this invention the RDS... Roster Dice Sleeve.

From left to right: Squad REP, Leader REP, Ast. Leader REP.

Squad (in white) and platoon number (in yellow) on the ends.

 I'm really pleased with them!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Khurasan Naga Blaster-Halberdiers

The Cult of Andromeda expands!


Jon just gave me to OK to show off the Naga figures with Halberd-blasters. I like the way the black hafts look with the gold bits.

Now these are out of the bag, expect to see them facing Lt. Duke's Star Army boys. Presuming of course, that they survive the Lhurgg campaign...


Friday, 16 September 2011

5150 Accessories

So naturally when I start playing a new game, instead of actually playing more games I get down to the distracting business of building lots of stuff I may or may not need to play it with.

First of all, I'm making some QRS sheets. The ones in the book are fine actually, but as I use a PDF, it gets tiresome hopping around while learning. I am also pushed for space (as I often moan about on this blog) so I like playing-card sized QRS rather than big sheets. It's also fun in a perverse way, trying to fit lots of information onto a tiny card.

Here's my first couple:

Click for full size

Click for full size

I'm doing a reaction card for each faction, using the one Weapons QRS I have done above, a shooting/damage card (that I will likely not need after a couple more game, it's very simple) and probably a PEF summary card, then a Card for each of the 3 different enemy tactics charts. I'm considering a weapons vs vehicles chart for the back of the infantry weapons card.. Apparently the chart is different though I haven't checked how.

Next, my PEF counters came out so nice it got me thinking. If I can ID my figures' equipment by looking at them WYSIWYG, then why not make some kind of model for the rest of the info?
All that's left to know in a game is the armor type (I can easily remember that) and the Squad's REP, the Leader's REP and the Assistant leader's REP.

Here are some ideas I scribbled down:

Which style is your favorite?

These wouldn't need to be on the actual table I suppose, but they would at least look nice and take up very little room. The ones on plastic bases could be made with stuff I already have (Always a huge plus) but getting the other ones laser cut from acrylic might be awesome too. Whichever way, I love that they are easily reconfigurable with simple color coded dice.

Note: I do realize that a small notepad would easily solve this as well, but if I can play a game solely with models, cards and dice, it will put a smile on my face.

Finally, I got a "defensive position" result in my last game and had no specific model to represent it. I have exceeded my gaming budget for the moment by buying solo board games so I wanted something cheap or free, that I could make easily (as I have said many times, I'm lazy and cheap).

Here is a quick design that requires only foamcore rectangles, with the corners cut off:


If I make 2 of each, it should be enough for most games. I will need some bunkers, which should be easy enough, and some buildings. I am deciding between GZG shacks and modules (Nice and small) Old Crow buildings (Good value larger buildings) and hand made (Cheapest but unlikely to get finished any time soon).

So much to do, so little time!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

5150: Star Army Mission 2


Morale: 
Star Army 8
Lhurgg 4

Star Army Investment Level: 3

Weather clear, daytime
Ariel recon OK
Intel level 3
Good intel. Lhurgg Investment Level: 3

Lt. Duke: "Looks simple enough."
Command: "We've lucked out. Your patrol revealed a weak point in their perimeter, practically unguarded. We're sending you in to push the point."


Mission: Attack! (Enemy on patrol)

Command: "Take your whole platoon and an HMG team, hit those alines hard!"

House rule time!
I don't have 24 painted troops. Also, I play on a 2x2 mat, so those kinds of figure counts are getting too high for my taste. Therefore I have taken a major liberty with the force organization charts. In my campaign a Squad is 4 men. A platoon is 12 men. Platoon leader is part of squad 1.

Mission objective: Destroy the enemy!

Walking in. This battle I figured I'd have enough to handle so I just skipped the insertion sequence.

The platoon:
1st Squad, 3rd Squad, 2nd Squad, HMG Team

1st Squad Rep 3
Led by SCOPES rep 5
Asl rep 4

2nd squad Rep 3
Led by MALONE rep 4
Asl rep 4

3rd Squad Rep 4
Led by DUKE Rep 5
Asl rep 4

HMG Team :rep4

I rolled up the battlefield. A bit less terrifying than last time

Terrain rolled up
                                   
My fancy new PEF counters. Still need flock.
The first PEF charged out cover. False alarm, just the wind blowing garbage around.

False alarm
First and Third squads rush forward to cover, while the HMG team tries to get a line of sight on the buildings with PEFs reported inside.

The next PEF is another false alarm. One left. Duke's team moves up with the RF Laser on point.




Lt. Duke:"Take it easy boys. Lhurgg guns are shorter range than ours. Cover all your angles."

The RF laser trooper is first to get eyes on the PEF area. The PEF resolves as 1 squad in defensive position.



As I was out of matching terrain, instead of adding another piece, I improvised the setup by rearranging the buildings, moving the "better" building back to be the defensive position and and swapping the worse one forward. I think this is in the spirit of the rules, representing a positive ID on the area compared to an earlier general idea.

Gulp. Some enemy.. Now it's on!

This part of the PEF procedure always confuses me. The PEF just resolved and the Star Army are the ones who are moving, so The Lhurgg roll an "in sight" test (in response to the Star Army figure that resolved the PEF.)

The Lhurgg pass 2 dice but as their SMGs are out of range, they duck back. As they have ducked back, the RF laser can't see them and cannot fire.

Star army wins the next initiative. The HMG can now see a Lhurgg in cover on the roof of the building. A quick burst sees the unfortunate alien ripped apart, Obviously Dead.

Jenkins: "Whoooo! First blood, you naked bastards!"

The Lhurgg  pass their man down test and carry on.. But  duck back as the Star Army come into view out of range. 1st squad attempts to flank, but their low rep makes fast moves awkward. They end up getting in the way of the HMG team somewhat.

Lt. Duke sits out of range and aims at the building with his men in a line.

Squad 2 loses a man to SMG fire as they get into position. The  Grenade Launcher cant get a shot.

Crunch time. The Grenade Launcher moves into position.. But the targets duck out of sight.

Over on Duke's side, the RF laser spits death and blasts a Lhurgg out of cover, out of the fight.

1st squad moves around the flank.. The Lhurgg leader fails it's in sight test! 1st Squad only has rep 3 however and their fire has no effect.

Star army wins activation again.

3rd squad continues to move around out of range, causing the Lhurgg to duck back again. As they are all in cover in a building, I am assuming they are not compelled to move anywhere, but just become ducked back. I hope this is correct.

2nd squad GL fires and misses. Apparently this means no effect. Lhurgg pass their received fire test and carry on.

Lhurgg Leader:"Where are our reinforcementsss! We are pinned down in this rat trap!"

1st squad moves up firing aggressively, but hits nothing due to cover. The Lhurgg leader is deadly accurate with his return fire and tags Scopes, taking him out of the fight. This leaves 1st squad in a bad way.
Scopes goes down

Initiative roll double 3. Random Event.. Sniper! 2nd squad is targeted and a shot rings out. The Grenade launcher trooper is down and out of the fight.

Sniper!
Malone: "Goddammit! Wilkins, help me drag these bleeders out of the sh*t!!"

The Lhurgg win initiative, but are too low rep to activate.

A 1st squad trooper runs forward and tries to ready a grenade.. Drops it. Rolls under his rep and goes prone as a result.

Scopes:"Aggh.. You green sonofabitch.. <passes out>"



Another trooper retrieves Scopes. The Lhurgg leader ducks back after an exchange of fire.

3rd squad's RF laser once again churns up the ruins and takes the last warrior out of the fight. The leader carries on, but is badly surrounded.

Squad 1 and the Lhurgg leader exchange ineffectual fire while 3rd Squad flanks and takes the leader down stunned with another deadly burst of RF laser fire.

Lt. Duke:"Get some!"

The trooper that dropped the grenade runs forward and captures the stunned leader...

Lhurgg Leader:"No Reinforcementssss...Ugh."


Secure that prisoner!
Star Army Win!

Post battle
One man from squad 2 is obviously dead and gets a replacement. Everyone else recovers from their wounds and returns to duty.

SA Morale: 9
L morale: 3

Lurg investment level -1

Command:"They are on the run by the looks of it, Duke. Nice work."
Lt. Duke:"It was sloppy. These boys are too green."
Command:"Then brown them up. Dismissed!"


A great game. I had to do an awful lot of scrolling back and forth through the rules, but mostly to make sure I was doing everything right. I think if I make up my own set of custom QRS sheets it will not be a problem again.
I'm impressed with how once the game gets going, there is next to no bookkeeping, and I could remember most of the relevant squad stats in my head or by looking at the minis. Really cool stuff in that regard.

The poor Lhurgg didn't bring enough troops to this battle and were shot up a treat. 1st Squad's rep of 3 was a big liability and the Lhurgg managed to pass all their man down and received fire tests with aplomb.

I've had an idea regarding a squad counter with 3 dice in it to track Squad Rep, Leader Rep, A.Leader rep and a 4th for star power for the star. If these are color coded, it will be an easy way to keep squad records without paper or pencil.

This BatRep was picture heavy, which was kind of fun but really slowed me down and ruined the immersion a little. I think I'll stick to a before and after shot in future.

IMPORTANT

If you decide to buy the rules, I strongly advise reading through them and playing out learning encounters as the books instructs you to. It is done very much in the style of video game tutorials, where it introduces the mechanics a little at a time. You learn to move and shoot before you even introduce the vehicles or random events.

For example:

"STOP!
This completes the vehicle section of the rules. I suggest that you play a small game with one or two vehicles per side to get used to the game mechanics. Once you have learned where to look on the QRS while you're gaming and how the mechanics work you can move on to bigger battles and learn how to add structures and terrain."

A very nicely considered approach and once again, far superior to previous versions.



Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Grenade Launcher Conversion

All painted up

As my UNSC collection lacks a grenade launcher, I set about one of my spare SAW troopers. I planned to do something with this mini anyway, as the SAW is not that easily distinguishable from a rifle for me.

I wouldn't ordinarily convert a painted figure like this, but hey.. It's 15mm. If it all goes wrong I'll buy another whole fireteam for like £3.

So I whipped out my clippers and snipped off the end of the gun, then puttied on some bits to help it stand out. The magazine is supposed to be a big drum full of 40mm grenades, and I gave him some packs to carry ammo in on his back. I'm getting faster with the putty.. This only took about 20 minutes :)

A snip here, putty there.. Grenade launcher!
I scored in some lines on his packs after the putty hardened a little. I painted the gun casing green to distinguish it a bit from the squad SAW.

I'm all set for my next game now. Fingers crossed we meet some hostiles this time ;)

Monday, 12 September 2011

5150: Star Army Campaign Mission 1

A pivotal moment in the game

I played my first game of 5150: Star Army today. Here is the report.

I chose to play Star Army (my UNSC figures) against Lhurgg.

I was counting Lhurgg  as PDF (planetary defence force) armed with SMGs and electric swords (1H close combat weapon) and the combat artist (+1 in melee) ability. There are no rules for nudity, so I classed them as in soft body armour.

The Lhurgg mutant counts as a squad asset.

He is hard as nails (3d6 for knockdown tests)
carries a 2h weapon and a Heavy Machine Gun.
Counts as wearing HB armour due to his size and extra head.

Star army Squad is Rep 5
Led by LT Duke, Rep 5, Star Power 5
They have 1 RF Laser and 1 grenade launcher. (I don't have any grenage launcher figures, but I'm going to modify one of my UNSC SAW troopers into a grenade launcher model.)

To begin the campaign , I rolled on the appropriate charts and got the following situation:

Campaign Morale:
Star Army 8
Lhurgg 5

The Star Army is Contesting a Lhurgg held planet. The Lhurgg have been raiding at will through the region for decades and the SA has finally been tasked with putting a stop to them.

1st mission: Patrol
(A campaign's first mission is always a patrol)

Star Army Investment Level: 6

Command: "This beach-head operation is vital to the attack on the planet!"
Lt. Duke: " So what assets do I have access to?"
Command: "The maximum allowable on a mission of this type!"
Lt. Duke: "Which is?"
Command: "None! Get your boots dirtside this instant, maggot!"

Weather: OK (I didn't roll a 1)
Ariel Recon: Successful.
Intel level: 4

Lt. Duke "That's good to hear, brainy. So what do you have for me?"
Pre mission Intel: Bad Intel.
Lt. Duke "…"

I rolled up the terrain and got this:


Initial setup as prescribed by the dice...


Lt Duke: "Holy crap. Tell me we're not footslogging it across that open ground."

Insertion roll: walking in.

Command:"Congratulations, you are footslogging it across that open ground."
Lt. Duke "Tremendous."

PEF (Possible Enemy Forces) markers are rolled and placed. Two in the ruins, one out in the open on the left.

The Star Army deploys in a long skirmish line in sectors 8 and 9.

Roll for initiative. Star Army Wins and activates with a 5. The first PEF is in plain view, so a First Contact roll is made… Pass 2 on first contact: Mission does not "go wrong". Whew.

PEF Resolution: Enemy investment level is it's maximum: 3

Pass 0= False alarm.

Lt Duke "Don't un-clench just yet ladies, double time to that cover line up front! Move it!"

I "Fast move" my squad up the table. Fast moves are rolled per figure, so it takes a pretty long time. Still, it spreads out the squad into an interesting shape.

The remaining PEFS, both Rep 6, quickly break cover and move rapidly into the open. Both are false alarms as I do not manage to roll 3 or lower (The enemy investment level) on any of my PEF resolution dice. The last one was in the best defensive position, so it was a little tense, but soon it swung violently out of cover...

Pvt Jones:"Sorry sir, scanner glitch. I think it might have been some kind of native... Cat. Or something. I'll recalibrate."

Another False alarm. No more PEFs.

Huh? No enemy troops? Not much of a battle.. I double checked the victory conditions for a patrol. To win I had to spend one full activation in each of the top 3 sectors of the board. This meant lots of activation rolls. Each activation roll carries with it the possibility of enemy reinforcements. Aha.

I played on.

Lt Duke "No napping you apes, keep 'em peeled while we scan the area."

The activation dice rolled time and again as I moved up and checked out all 3 sectors. All remained quiet until what turned out to be the the penultimate activation roll came up Star Army 2 and Lurggh 5.. a 7! Possible reinforcements!

Lt. Duke: "Heads up troopers, I smell trouble!"

But as the Lhurgg's dice read 5, which was greater than their investment level of 3 (their maximum), they passed 0 and got no reinforcements.

Pvt Jones: "Say again sir?"
Lt. Duke: "Uh, nothing. Just clearing my throat. Koff."


The next few turns are spent inspecting the remaining top 2 board sectors and the activation dice bring no more surprises.

The squad breathes a collective sigh of relief. What looked like a potential killing ground turned out to be a literal walk in the park. Mission Complete.

On their return to base, Lt. Duke racks up 1 fame point for a successful patrol.

Lt. Duke "I call that a 'Duking'."
Command: "SHUT YOUR SCUMHOLE AND GET TO THE DEBRIEFING CHAMBER!"


I rolled for campaign results and the Lhurgg force's morale was reduced by 1, as news of 1st Squad's historic unopposed landing spread through their ranks. I guess.

Campaign Morale:
Star Army:8
Lhurgg: 4


Post cakewalk thoughts:

Uh.. What? I had a nagging suspicion I didn't do everything right, but as far as I can tell from exhaustive checking, I'm 99% sure I did. It seems that rolling a 4 or better consistently for PEF resolution against an investment 3 enemy means... No action.

As a solo game? A great Success. I was drawn into the battle before it began while rolling for intel and setting up the board. Making my way across the board was a tense experience and I guess I can say I was certainly surprised that I met no enemy.

As a battle? Not exactly action packed by anyone's standards. I was entertained by the result in any case.

The rules held up very well with me having to flip around to find out everything I needed, mostly because each reference to a different rule is followed by a page number. eg: Roll for situation x (page y) which makes it all very painless.

Unfortunately I ran out of time to play another game, so fingers crossed for another report in the near future that tests the actual combat rules ;)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Khurasan's Cult Of Andromeda

I gambled on painting the the rifles black/grey for contrast and I'm glad I did.


Khurasan has just released a new range of models called the "Cult of Andromeda". They have strong mythos overtones but are firmly sci-fi in terms of weapons. You could probably stretch to steampunk though if you wanted to use them for less spacey battles. I've got some of the Naga Halberds done too, but Jon hasn't released the photos yet so I'll hold off posting them until he does or gives me the OK.

I went for an Egyptian feel for these models, as I didn't want them to look just like my Thulids. These I did  with an all-green color scheme that I think came out rather well.

Thulids in deep green robes and sickly green flesh.. Spooky!


They came out so well in fact, that I'm considering selling off my 15mm.co.uk Octopods and investing in more of these. 

Finally, here is a multi-tentacled beast that reminds me of a Shoggoth...

Look at all those tentacles!

With the Octopus God and a cultist for scale.
The big beasts are on 50mm bases, the cultist on a 20mm

Friday, 9 September 2011

5150 Star Army Review





I have always has a tempestuous relationship with THW products. On one hand I am a true fan of the way their rules truly buck the trends so common in wargaming and deliver a very different play experience to anything else on the Market. On the other hand, I've never been sure if I was playing them correctly and had trouble making sense of them in many cases. I found the layout baffling, the language used unhelpful, seemingly endless charts that seemed to have limited effect.. There were always speed bumps that stopped me really enjoying the experience.

It is for these reasons I never bought the original 5150. Five years have passed and THW has stuck with it. They have released many more games and paid a great deal if attention to fans. THW fans are pretty hardcore and luckily, very enthusiastic and positive toward newcomers. This is important to know because THW rules are supported through their Yahoo group, which boasts thousands of members. Some people say this Yahoo group is a strength of the system. (To play Devil's advocate I would suggest that if the system was that well written it would not require a Yahoo group to comprehend it... But let's put all that aside for now.)

After reading a couple of good reports I took a chance and downloaded the PDF from RPGnow.com. I'm glad I did because this book is really, really damn good.

First, to judge the book by its cover. Gone are the cringey CG efforts of the previous editions. Like all current-gen THW covers, this one is tasteful and professional looking.

On to the rules, they are written in a much more clear and direct way to the older sets (my experiences have been with Legends of Araby, CR 2.0 and 3.0) and explain the game in a very well thought out sequence that makes the game a pleasure to learn. The layout is thoughtful and a tremendous improvement for the company.

The game is presented this time as a campaign system specifically for running battles that the ubiquitous Star Army might take part in, rather than a "everything you can imagine" approach. This focus makes the whole product feel tighter and more polished. There are lists and charts for alien and insurgent forces that will proxy well for a lot of mini ranges on the Market.

Some of my favourite positives about Star Army:

*No points values. The game runs great without needing them. Brilliant.
*Vehicle rules that are both different to infantry systems yet share common mechanics. Slick.
*Vastly improved squad mechanics that are quicker to use, yet lose no flexibility. Nice.
*Great campaign system for military battles.
*Highly scalable to your own minis and terrain collections. Plays well with a handful of figures as well as platoon strength forces.
*Arguably the best solo rules and quick scenario generator on the Market.

Negatives? Surprisingly, none so far. I need to get some games under my belt to make any more comment, but as far as reading the book goes I am enthused about playing and feel likeI know how to.

One caveat may be the price. $20 USD is more than I'm accustomed to paying for a PDF, and there are a lot of comparable products for a good deal cheaper. However I don't feel cheated in any way and will hopefully get a lot of fun out of the book.

If you are at all interested in the THW family of games, this one represents a genuine turning point and you owe it to yourself to try it out.

Happy Gaming!