Work in progress and review of some Khurasan Miniatures Space Demons

August 29, 2013

I recently had some time available and decided to add to my 15mm miniatures.  I succumbed to severe temptation and purchased some expansions to my “Space Demons” army from Khurasan Miniatures. http://khurasanminiatures.tripod.com/    I was very pleased with what I got!

What did I get?  The “Space Demon Great Queen” and the “Space Demon Trolls”.  The Great Queen is a resin and metal mini and the Trolls are all metal.  These are all giants in the 15mm scale.  They would be greater-than-human-sized monsters in 28mm.  Khurasan’s web site has some comparison pictures with different scaled minis for size – that way his customers can make informed purchasing decisions.

So – reviewing the pieces.  Well, the service from Khurasan is outstanding and the shipping was lightning quick.  I was even able to add an additional mini to my order (more on that later) that he was able to toss in by reopening the already packed order.  Already packed on the same evening I ordered it online! :)

When the pieces came I was very impressed with the quality of the basic components.  The quality is outstanding, with very few lines, minimal flash and easy-to-remove sprues.  The combo of resin and metal for the Great Queen is good quality and the pieces fit together very well.

Great Queen parts right out of package. Regular Space Demon in picture for scale...

Great Queen parts right out of package. Regular Space Demon in picture for scale…

Great Queen parts closer look

Great Queen parts closer look

Pieces for the Space Demon Great Queen and both Space Demon Trolls

Pieces for the Space Demon Great Queen and both Space Demon Trolls

The Space Demon Trolls are also neat sculpts and are massive hunks of metal.  They come with their own metal bases with uniquely spaced mounting holes for the pegs in the feet.  Unpainted they are hard to judge, but the molding and sculpting looks very nice.

Close up of the parts for Great Queen - sexy gribbly-licious stuff!

Close up of the resin parts for Great Queen – sexy gribbly-licious stuff!

The quality of the sculpt in the resin is quite high.  No molding issues of any consequence.  A couple of “almost bubbles” that blend right in with the gribblies on the sculpt.

Now then, if I was going to have a Winged Space Demon Queen, well, she would need some winged troops to follow her.  After digging through my bits parts in despair of wings I chanced to pick up one of my son’s new Tyranid Gargoyles.  The wings were too big to use whole but were shaped right for trimming down.  No…I did *not* start carving his Tyranid Gargoyles apart while he played “Eve Online” in his room.  Tempting, but…well, thank you bits sellers on E-bay.  I order 5 pairs of wings for a little over $10 with shipping.  They came in the mail 2 days later.

Space Demons with Wings!!!

Space Demons with Wings!!!

Luckily I had some unfinished Space Demons from a prior order.  A little trimming of the wings, a little Green Stuff and Superglue and – presto – five Winged Space Demons!  Now that is exceptionally scary!

After a few days of painting I now have some cool-looking, scary and Super-gribbly sexy Space Demons to add to my forces!

A "posed" picture of some of the Space Demons meeting a group of lunch...uh, humans

A “posed” picture of some of the Space Demons meeting a group of lunch…uh, humans

Okay, if you look in the picture above you will see the additional figure I ordered from Khurasan that got tossed into the same package.  The lovely lady with the M4 machine gun for a right leg – Miss Sheri Amour!  Why she was traveling with those scientists digging in the ancient ruins is a mystery. Miss Amour normally is seen hobnobbing with zombies as she blows their frakking heads off with her leg…

A closer shot of the Winged Space Demons now that they are painted.

A closer shot of the Winged Space Demons now that they are painted.

I put some colors on the black undercoat of my Space Demons.  It helps them stand out on the table a bit and makes it easier to differentiate groups of them during games.  I gave the Winged Space Demons a reddish drybrush color reasoning that they may be trying to “stand out” to impress the Queen…if they have eyes.  Hmmm…I’ll have to ask them how they see sometime…

The Space Demon Trolls are gargantuan smashing monsters, perfect for ripping through buildings and armored vehicles

The Space Demon Trolls are gargantuan smashing monsters, perfect for ripping through buildings and armored vehicles

I painted the Space Demon Trolls in a lightly applied grayish color.  It seemed to emphasize their brutish powerful appearance.

The Space Demon Great Queen and some of her Winged Consorts

The Space Demon Great Queen and some of her Winged Consorts

I painted the Great Queen with several colors – predominantly reddish on her wings, spine and head crest and gray-green on her arms and legs.  Some purple for her extensible jaws and gribbly belly parts and some bone white for claws.  Ain’t she sexy!

Painted, the Space Demon Great Queen and the Space Demon Trolls look pretty darned neat – even with my sucky paint jobs.  I am very happy with them and am planning some games of “Tomorrow’s War” around them.  It will definitely take armored vehicles to take them on!  I don’t know whether Sheri Amour will show up but you never know…

Thanks!

Sheri Amour vs the Great Queen

Sheri Amour vs the Great Queen


And some additional work – a vehicle for the Nirs Empire forces…

January 8, 2012

Hello again!  We made it to 2012! Happy New Year!

I was worried that it was going to be the end of the world.  My calendar for 2011 ENDED at the end of December!  There was nothing after that.  That just HAD to mean it was the end!  Then my sweet wife came back from grocery shopping and – lo and behold – she had a calendar for 2012!  The world was not ending just because the calendar did.  How silly of me to think that an arbitrary end of a calendar cycle would herald the end of the world…nobody could be that silly.  Could they?

Anyway, my work on miniatures progresses.  I saw an exceptionally cool posting on the 15mm Sci Fi forum of “The Miniatures Page” about using some Matchbox “UFO” models from the late 1990′s as miniatures.  I just had to try it and…one (or two, you know how it goes) E-Bay orders later I had a basic one to work with.  Some super-glueing and repainting left me with this:

Some Nirs Empire infantry backed up by one of their Dropship/Grav Tank/APCs...

The Matchbox UFOs come in a gold and purple scheme - I repainted it but kept the theme gold and purple, which just happened to fit some of the Nirs Marines quite well.  In  the “Tomorrow’s War” rules these would be Tech Level 3 grav vehicles and would mix dropship with tank with APC.  When you get to a certain point with grav vehicles they kind of lost the distinction.  You define them by the role they are currently serving.  The photo above shows it on a stand, acting sort of like a vtol or a grav tank with pop up capability.

Now the vehicle is acting like a grav tank or Infantry Fighting Vehicle

I did do some modification to the Matchbox UFO model.  It had no visible weapons – so I searched through my various bits until I found something I could use for a “main gun”.  What I found were some small space ship minis that I had used as part of a fleet for  “Full Thrust”.  They were perfect!

I used some “green stuff” epoxy to secure magnets to the “main gun” and to the ufo body and there you go: instant turret!  The gun can come off for storage and swivels in the game, just to let the enemy shudder in fear as it points at them!

My workspace is pictured below where I will be painting up 3 more of those beauties!

Nirs grav vehicles under construction

I thought I would share this.  I will have some more cool (well, cool to me) stuff to show soon!  Have a great day!


Some of what I’ve been working on lately…

December 31, 2011

Greetings everyone!  I hope this new year will be great for you all!

I *was* going to enter the Ambush Alley Games “Strike Force” contest with these forces.  Then I saw the paint jobs on the competition and realized I was sorely outclassed in painting skills.  However, I will provide a band-aid to my vanity and show the pictures off in my Blog.  I paint things so they look okay on the table for gaming.  I don’t think I will ever be a contest-winning artist.  However, I do have fun with it and that is what really counts! (I keep telling myself that…)

Here is my first completed force: A strike force for the “Order of St. Mauricius”, the military arm of the “Primacy of Alterarum Terrarum”, also known as “church space” in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook.  This is a region of space with worlds colonized by the Catholic Church.

I am preparing a campaign on a planet where the Order of St. Mauricius is being used as the “bad guys” to overthrow a successful colonial rebellion.  Thus, I needed a coherent-looking armed force.  I wanted them in reddish colors and found that “rust red” paint ended up looking pretty good.

The Order of St. Mauricius Strike Force

The forces of the Order of St. Mauricius, at least how I am developing them, include “Indoctrinators”, armed deacons who work to keep the morale of their squads burning at a fever pitch.  Sort of like “”Commisars” from the Soviet Union and certain “not-to-be-named” games…  I used Rebel Mini’s “Gun Clerics” for those figures.  The rest of the OSM infantry figs are Rebel Minis “Earth Forces Drop Troopers”.

Closeup of 2 Scout Squads and their Grav Scout APCs

The vehicles in the force came from Combat Wombat Miniatures and from Matchbox Cars.

Closeup of Scout Squad Baker 9 - note the military crest for the Order on the nose of the Grav APC

Closeup of Recon Squad Able 5 - including Armed Combat Bot

My force needed some infantry heavy weapons and Rebel Minis didn’t provide anything suitable, so I added some “combat bots”  by raiding my supply of re-based power-armored figures from “Mechwarrior Dark Age”.  The arm/leg length ratio on the MDA figure is not really proportional for a 15mm scale human, but if you say it is a humanoid combat drone carrying heavy weapons then it fits right in.

Note the small gun poking out of the lower front of the wheeled APCs.  I added this to make them “armed” as opposed to “unarmed”, plus it fills a rivet hole in the Matchbox “Armored Response Vehicle”.

The "Armored Fist" of the Strike Force - Grav Tanks via Combat Wombat

The heavy punch of the strike force is provided by two Medium Grav Tanks and three Heavy Grav Tanks.  These units can be either hammer or anvil as needed.  They are also fun to paint.

A look down the line of the Strike Force

Now, I have been playing around with “alien” concepts too.  I had some lucky finds when shopping at “Recruits” and bought a batch of “Battlestations” miniatures.  I thought they would make great “Tomorrow’s War” aliens that did not look like “men in rubber suits”.  Thus I created the “Nirs Empire”, a multi-species polity that human space is just about to start bumping up against.  None of the species in the Nirs Empire are humanoid at all…

Exploratory force of the Nirs Empire

The “Battlestations” “Canosian Marines” are heart of the Nirs Empire forces.  They are backed up by the physically stronger, six-limbed “Xeloxians”, who even have some power-armored figures.

The Nirs Scout Marines (from Battlestations Canosian Marines)

Closeup of the Nirs Heavy Weapons units (from Battlestations Xeloxians)

Another Closeup of the Nirs Heavy Weapons Unit, because I liked the picture

So that is some of what I have been playing with.  There will be more soon!

Thanks for looking!


Tomorrow’s War After Action Report – Scenario “Tigers by the Tail”

December 31, 2011
Greetings everyone!  I hope the holidays are being good for y’all!

I have been busy with lots of things in life and haven’t gotten much gaming in.  Today I managed to play a game of “Tomorrow’s War” with my friend Mike.  I chose the scenario “Tigers by the Tail” from page 121 of the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook.  It seemed like a fairly simple “tanks only” scenario and would be good to keep trying to familiarize my friend with the TW rules.

The scenario takes place on the colony world of Glory, during a war between the “Democratic People’s Republic of Glory” or “DPRG” and the “Republic of Arden” or “RA”.  The DPRG is a reincarnation of North Korea, only worse.  The Republic of Arden is a growing, free country.  Expansion on the planet of Glory has led to conflict between these two powers.  The United States has chosen to aid the Republic of Arden and has sent a Marine Expeditionary Force to help.  This scenario is based on the first contacts between the advancing armored columns of DPRG tanks and the point scouts of the USMC forces.  It also represents a clash between obsolete tanks fielded by the DPRG and the most advanced tanks fielded by the United States.  The DPRG tanks are Tech Level 1 and the USMC tanks are Tech Level 3.

Overview of the battlefield for "Tigers by the Tail".

Here is the battlefield setup for the game.  The trees go right to the edge of the road, actually slowing the vehicles down as they pass through.  Vehicles can go no faster on the road through the woods than they can in the woods off road.

Two of my "Hammer's Slammers" blowers are used for the "Perkins" Main Battle Tanks for the USMC

The USMC sent a force of two tanks to try and delay and disrupt the advancing column of DPRG tanks.  The “Perkins” grav tanks are armed with 180mm fusion guns and gauss machine guns that have some anti-tank capability.  They are deadly customers and very heavily armored too!

Two of the DPRG "Chonma-Ho III" Main Battle Tanks

The “Chonma-Ho” Main Battle Tanks fielded by the DPRG were considered obsolete when they were used in this conflict.  Their armor is light and they are uparmed with Tech Level 2 Advanced Ballistic Main Guns.  They are outclassed in every way by the USMC tanks.

The DPRG column on-road at the beginning of the scenario. Platoon Leader Bai's tank is #65

The scenario starts with the DPRG tanks in column on the road and the USMC tanks starting somewhere within one foot of the west edge of the map.  Mike played the DPRG forces and I played the USMC forces.  I set one of my tanks in the little clump of woods in the northwest and the other deep in the western woods.

At the start of Turn 1 the USMC tank gets its fangs pulled

At the start of Turn 1 the USMC tank in the small clump of woods executed a “Fire and Move” command.  The rearmost DPRG tank was the target.  That tank chose to react with fire.  When we rolled our troop quality checks that tank go to shoot first.  Wham!  Main Gun destroyed on the USMC tank.  The “move” portion of the “fire and move” turned into a pull back. My dice hate me!

I moved the other USMC tank out of the woods to get a shot at the middle of the column. One of the DPRG tanks reacted to my movement by trying to get a rear armor shot on me. I responded to the fire, losing some of the distance I intended to cover in the process.  A quick exchange and “BLAM!”, the DPRG Platoon Leader’s tank went “kablooey” (that’s an ancient military technical term for “blown up, sir”).  Some of the other DPRG tanks had reacted with movement and so were further down the road. My tank ended up not close enough to the road to see it through the trees.

Not the glorious ambush I had intended...

The Perkins MBT didn't quite get close enough to see through the woods.

When things go right they are singular.  When things go wrong they come in clusters. My tanks were no not where I wanted them to be.  It was the DPRG (Non-initiative player) turn to move things.  The lead elements of the column moved down the road to get closer to their exit point. Then one of the DPRG tanks went on the offensive and charged up right behind the fully armed and undamaged USMC tank in the woods.  He was executing a “move and fire” command.  I intended to return fire.  We rolled our Troop Quality rolls – he rolled a “6″, I rolled a “3″.  He shot first and got one hit through my armor.  A quick roll on the vehicle damage table produced an “8″.  Sigh…vehicle brew up and casualty check.

The DPRG tank zooms up behind the USMC tank and delivers a knockout shot!

OUCH!

The rest of the DPRG column was heading for the exit point.  I had one tank left with a Heavy-Duty Machine gun on it that had an anti-tank firepower of 2D8.  Not exactly fear inspiring.

The rest of the DPRG column rolling down the road.

I was not able to do a move and fire with the remaining USMC Perkins tank (no targets) but I did perform a rapid move behind the woods to see whether I could get some luck long shots at the column as it emerged from the woods.  The crafty DPRG player used his successful killer tank to chase mine down by cutting a diagonal through the woods.  He took a shot at my tank so I responded as best I could with return fire.

The DPRG tank that made the first kill tries to make another one

This time the DPRG shot went “clang” off the armor of the USMC Perkins Main Battle Tank – as it should.  The shot from the Perkins HMG (heavy machine gun) scored one hit on the Chonma-Ho III tank.  The resultant roll on the damage table was “Main Gun Destroyed”.

Hmm, what's wrong with this picture?

The DPRG won the initiative for the remaining turns of the game.  My only other shots with my HMG were futile, just clanging off armor.  The DPRG scored a very decisive victory in this engagement.

Game end - Decisive DPRG Victory!

The Victorious DPRG Tanks

The Battlefield Carnage!

The game took only about an hour to play, flowed well and was lots of fun.  The scenarios in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook are pretty good and I enjoy playing them.  I must admit I was concerned with the game balance on this one.  I thought it would be unbalanced in the USMC favor.  Well, that turned out to be hubris on my part.

Oh, and did I mention that my dice hate me?  I’m sure I did…

;)


“The Doom that came to Elkhorn” – A playtest that went very well

October 12, 2011

Greetings all!

As I hinted in my previous post, this Sunday’s “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts featured a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario placed in the present, covering an invasion of horrible, carnivorous aliens.  I decided to use the town I live in as the template for the scenario.  I had to compress some of the details and change a few others (I don’t have a 15mm replica of “Burger King”).  While I still have to add a few more buildings before “Rock Con” I think it is turning out pretty well.

The prelim results of the playtest showed a pretty good balance of the forces and the goals.  I was concerned the Space Demons would be too powerful but that did not turn out to be the case.  I will make a couple of tweaks before “Rock Con” and I think it will play well there.

My intrepid playtesters were an Ambush Sunday regular, John, then my son Thomas and…well, me.

So, without further adeau…adew…uh, blather, here is an After Action Report of the game.

The Doom that came to Elkhorn

A “Tomorrow’s War” Scenario by Mark Gipson

On a stormy Sunday morning the tremendous flash and bang in the skies over southern Elkhorn,
Wisconsin was not a spectacularly large lightning strike.  Lightning strikes don’t cause low-grade electromagnetic pulses that knock out electronics for half the county.  What followed the
“flash and bang” could only be described as a “hole” that briefly opened up in the sky.  Out of the hole fell several large, organic-looking shapes.  These shapes, if put together, looked like they would form part of a menacing-looking egg – if eggs were the size of office buildings!
These objects crashed into the ground on and around the overpass over Interstate 43.  Before the shocked onlookers in their now silent cars could even grab their now silent cell phones
a flurry of smaller figures started pouring out of the wreckage that fell from the sky.  These figures charged at the watching people.  And then the screaming began…

This is a “Tomorrow’s War” scenario with 4 different armed forces.  One force is the invading
aliens, being played by Khurasan’s “Space Demons”.  The other three forces are members of the
U.S. Army Reserve, stationed in and around Elkhorn, members of the Elkhorn Police Department and groups of Armed Citizens (all courtesy of Rebel Minis purchases).
The goal of the three human forces is to rescue other humans and try to hold back the alien menace.  The goal of the aliens is to feed!  The two possible choices for food are the humans and a small herd of cows, the cows being in town by the fairgrounds for a dairy show.

Looking from the north to the south down Hwy 67 - Space Demons are deploying at the top right of the picture

The troop stats:

Space Demons – pretty much as described in the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook..oh, wait, most of you don’t have that yet…okay, let me be more detailed:

Regular (Close-Combat) Space Demons: 12x Troop Quality (TQ): D10 / Morale: D12 - 1D Armor (tough skin), 2 close combat attacks per figure, and use the Intimidating special rule – if they charge you then you must make a morale roll.  Failure leaves you “suppressed”  – very bad!

Hammerhead (Shooty) Space Demons: (home-made characteristics) 12x TQ: D8/Morale: D12 - 1D Armor, only one close combat attack BUT they have a shooting attack: They shoot bolts of electrified plasma out of their “eyes”, the round orifices at the ends of the hammerheads (which aren’t actually eyes, by the way).  These are 1D damage shots with normal combat ranges, i.e. they can shoot a long way just like a rifle.  Note: the *pair* of “eyes” work together to create the 1D shot.  Not “1D per eye”, it is “1D per alien”.  So a group of 5 of the “Hammerheads” would have a 5D8 ranged attack and a 5D8 close combat attack.  But wait, there’s more…

The electric plasma bolt has a “Super-Taser” effect on humans that stuns them if it doesn’t kill them outright.  If troops take casualties they assess them as normal with the normal first aid table.  Dead is dead, Okay is Okay.  The Lightly Wounded and Severely wounded categories leave the person in a stunned state – good for live food (or worse).  The exception to normal is that the casualty may be reassessed each turn.  The only result that counts is an “Okay” result which means the person woke up.  Any other result leaves them stunned.

The Space Demon King and Queen are worse: TQ: D10/Morale: D12, 4D10 Close combat attacks each, 2D body armor (big, thick boney plates), Intimidating, and Hard to Kill - when hit roll a D8; on a 4 or better they bounce right back from the hit.  Nasty killing machines who lead their troops telepathically.  If they are killed the regular and hammerhead Space Demons drop a full TQ die and go to D8 morale.

Finally, the Space Demons have a Colossus with them.  This is effectively an organic, walking Medium Tank with Walker Close Combat Weapons as well as a ranged attack.

Walking on three legs and standing the height of a house, the Space Demon Colossus (which is a
pain-in-the-butt word to type, incidentally) in this game comes armed with a ranged weapon and close-combat weapons.   The ranged weapon “spits” acid-coated teeth and counts as a AP:2/AT:4
Medium weapon.  It is considered armed with an “anti-vehicular melee weapon”, AP:5/AT:3(Medium).  It has a high Anti-Personnel rating due to the bone-tipped tentacles that I added to my “Space Demon Colossus” figure.

Armor is 3D10 all sides, treated as a Medium Vehicle.  The underside is the weak spot, being 2D6.
Underside can be directly targeted by anti-vehicular weaponry at 6 inches range or less.

The Colossus moves like infantry: 6” or less for “cautious” speed and 6” to 12” for “rapid” movement.

——————–

The Armed Civilians – Townsfolk who have grabbed their various hunting weapons and run out on the streets to engage the invaders.  These use the Irregular Unit rules and act effectively as Insurgents.  They come from 4 Hot Spots on the map.  The Hot Spots can be neutralized by a squad of Space Demons who spend a full turn next to one (within 2 inches).

Armed Citizens: TQ:D6 / Morale: D6, require a successful TQ check to be activated.  If they are within 8 inches of either a squad of Police or a squad of Military they can be activated normally.  Their weapons have normal ranges.  As they are killed they will be recycled through available Hot Spots.

————

Elkhorn Police – The Police men and women are forced to go on foot and communicate with runners since the EMP shut down their electronics and vehicles.  They are arranged in squads of 4.  Two squads may consolidate into one squad of 8.

TQ: D8 / Morale: D8, 1D body armor - trouble is they are armed with pistols and shotguns.  Any fire at a target greater than 8 inches away causes them to drop a TQ die from D8 to D6.  Their goal is to rescue civilians and get them off the north side of the map.  I have about 20 of them and in this game did not get them all deployed.

————

The Army Reserve Unit – The local Reserve unit was put on alert the night before.  They have some equipment and ammunition available but not a lot.  They come into the game at the beginning of Turn 2, from the Northeast Road.  They have 2 up-armored Humvees, one armed with an M2 turret and one armed with a M19 Automatic Grenade Launcher.  The specs come from “Force on Force”:

TQ:D8 / Morale: D10 - 1D Body Armor

M1043 HMMWV (Up-Armored Humvees)

FIREPOWER: M2 HMG: AP:4/AT:1(L)  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

FIREPOWER: Mk19 AGL: AP:3/AT:0  DEFENSE: Up Armored Soft-Skin Vehicle – 2D6 Armor All Sides: CREW: 1 + 3

Two 9 man squads consisting of two 4-man fireteams and a squad leader w/M-4 .

Fireteam – 1x Fireteam Leader w/M-4, 1x Grenadier w/M-203 (RGL, LT. Support), 1x Gunner w/M-249 (SAW, Lt. Support) and 1x Assistant Gunner w/M-4

There are also 2 Hvy weapons teams with AT rocket launchers and M-4s. Rocket Launcher is AP:3 / AT: 3, plus team bonus.

———-

Normal Unarmed Civilians – will react to any Space Demon that moves within 6 inches with a D6 roll.  On a 4 or better they will move a full 6 inches directly away from the approach of the alien.  on a 3 or less they freeze in place, panicked.  Unarmed Civilians will automatically join any group of Armed Civilians, Police or Army who move within 2 inches of them.  They will then move with the group, contributing no defense or offense but can be targeted if the group is attacked.  They can perform rapid movements.

——–

9x Cows – HO scale cows – given a nominal 1D6 defense and no attack value.  Humans can herd the cows away from the Space Demons by making a successful TQ check.  If failed then roll a D6.  On a 1 they don’t move.  On a 2 they move north 3 inches, on a 3 they move east 3 inches, on a 4 they move south three inches, on a 5 they move west 3 inches and on a 6 you get another chance.  They react to Space Demons as per humans.  They will normally move at cautious (6 inch) speed.  Another TQ roll is required to make them perform a rapid movement (up to 12 inches).

———

The game started with the Space Demons deploying on the western half of the southern edge of the 4 ft x 4 ft map.  Two squads of Police and one squad of Armed Civilians are placed anywhere on the map more than 18 inches away from the Space Demons starting area.  Unarmed Civilians are placed randomly around the map by all players.  They must be at least 12 inches from the Space Demons starting area.

On Turn 1 the Space Demons have the initiative.  On Turn 2 the Humans have the initiative.  After that Initiative is rolled for normally.  “Tomorrow’s War” Fog of War cards are used, but they have to be looked at closely.  If the card drawn just won’t work then discard it and draw another one.

So, the game started with the Space Demons charging northward from the crash site towards town.  There were a lot of helpless civilians who had been hurrying towards the crash to try to help.  They now needed help themselves.  A couple of groups of police officers were also running south in groups of 4, having abandoned their non-operational squad cars.  A group of civilians heard the commotion and grabbed some weapons before they came running.

Space Demons advance towards a small neighborhood

The Police were the first ones to start gunning for the Space Demons.  Sadly, at the longer ranges they were of limited effectiveness.

The southernmost squad of Police engage some Hammerhead Space Demons

At the same time the group of Armed Civilians attempted to engage some Space Demons at a distance.  The Space Demon Colossus responded, HARD!

Hunting rifles and enthusiasm don't help much against acidic explosions!

At the top of the next turn the Human forces had the initiative.  The Army Reserve forces charged in and tried to use the speed of their Humvees to get some heavier firepower laid down.  An up-armored Humvee is still just a truck, not a tank.  Fire from the Hammerhead Demons damaged one of the Humvees.

The Humvee took damage and so did the squad of Police in the taco shop's parking lot.

The Army Reservist squads were sweeping up some civilians with them.  For the moment the civilians were being herded towards danger, because the Reservists needed to get to more of them.

One of the Anti-tank Squads picks up some civilians outside of the Middle School

The other Anti-Tank squad heads west to another building.

The southernmost squad of Police were heroicly standing up to fire from the Hammerhead Demons.  They were being enough of a problem that the Space Demon player chose to engage them with the Space Demon King.  The incredibly brave Policemen held their ground and actually knocked the Space Demon King down with their shooting…go Glock!  (Bad defense dice and horrible Hard-to-Kill roll) Tragically, the Space Demon King was immediatly followed by a Squad of 4 normal Space Demons.  The brave Policemen were no match for 8 x D10 close combat attacks…

The sad aftermath of an Heroic encounter...

The Space Demon King made his “First Aid” check the next turn and popped up as good as new.  Meanwhile, the big meat pile…I mean the herd of dairy cattle in the pen in the center of the map were attracting the attention of the Space Demons.

"There's the beef!"

One of the squads of Reservists on foot got into some long-range firefights with the Hammerhead Space Demons.  One example is shown in the next picture.

The fireteam at the bottom of the picture engages the distant Space Demons at the top of the picture.

Note the Anti-Tank Rocket team on the middle school roof.  They engaged in a significant exchange of fire with the Space Demon Colossus.  After trading some shots they scored a good hit on the “main gun” of the Colossus, i.e. they shot it in the mouth, rendering its “main gun” inoperable.  This turned the Colossus into a close-combat machine that was not very close (yet).

Now remember that some civilians had followed the Anti-Tank team?  Well, I decided that they were going to stick close to the soldiers and would not know that they should NOT stand behind a rocket launcher.  I gave them a chance to get hurt.  I rolled a D6 for each civilian and on a “6″ they stood in the wrong spot.  Unfortunately, one of the civilians did just that…swoosh…oops…

A group of Space Demons on the west side of the map were charging past houses towards the more crowded part of town.  Their battle cry was “NOM! NOM! NOM!” or something like that…

The Space Demons approach the yummy humans hiding in the bar...hmmm, snacks AND drinks!

Finally, at the center of town the humans had not reached the cows to rescue them.  The Space Demons, however, DID reach the cows.  If you want a good mental image of what ensued next, just take a blender, then put a tomato in it, then drop in some ice cubes (for crunch).  Then run it on “High” with the top off…

"NOMMY! NOMMY! NOM NOM NOM!

The Army Reservists, the Police and the Armed Civilians were all engaged in various firefights on the central and northern parts of the map.

Troops engaging the Hammerhead space Demons.

Chaos in the streets as more Police show up...

Things were starting to go from grim to desperate for the humans.  THEN the Space Demon Queen, who had been weaving her way between houses and buildings, charged across the street in front of the Napa Auto Parts store – her target a squad of Policemen.  The Humvee, a squad of Reservists AND the squad of Police all successfully reacted.  Before she could reach the Police she dropped, for good, under a hail of fire.  Sadly, 3 Policemen were victims of military “Friendly Fire” in this engagement (creating rules on the fly for the situation).

The Space Demon Queen gets gunned down in front of the quonset hut garage.

A group of civilians and a damaged squad of Police grabbed the body of the Space Demon Queen and dragged it off the map while they escaped.  They just barely dodged a charge from another group of Space Demons who were trying to recover the body.

The green Space Demon in the picture didn't quite make the charge.

On the east side of the map things went less well.  Space Demons mowed down some groups of Armed Civilians like a pack of starving Basset Hounds on the last pizza slice on earth.  They then engaged and defeated the Anti-Tank Squad in the Middle School.

The Space Demons make kills while horrified civilians look on...

The game ended (due to time constraints) with significant chaos still occurring in town.  The Space Demons were WAY ahead in “Civilians and Cows” killed compared to the humans “Civilians and Cows” rescued.  But the Humans had scored big in not just killing the Space Demon Queen but capturing her body for study.  At this point we judged it a slight Space Demon victory.

Chaos reigns as Space Demons rampage in the background

This scenario was incredibly fun.  The different elements fit together really well, with the Police, Armed Civilians and Military all having their unique abilities to throw into the mix.  The addition of distance weapons and heavy weapons for the Space Demons makes them a multi-dimensional threat (pun intended).  The requirement to rescue humans was quickly forgotten by the human players – which was expected by the scenario designer (who was one of the Human side players).

Using the “Tomorrow’s War” rules in a “modern” setting worked fairly well.  There were no real Tech Level differences between the sides but the Space Demons were still quite alien.  The “Fog of War” cards took some interpreting and discarding to work but they did their job well.  Funniest “Fog of War” moment was when the Space Demon player rolled a 1 and got a “Fog of War” card that said one of his troops had set off a mine or booby trap.  In the city of Elkhorn I can guarantee we have few booby traps and no minefields.  However, we ruled that one of the aliens tore into a ground-level transformer that held some residual energy and was injured that way.  Aliens would not understand why you should not claw up that warm box…oops!

This should make an excellent “Convention Game”.  It is cinematic, dramatic and fun.  There are enough troops for 4 to 6 people to play without bogging things down.  I am so looking forward to running this at “Rock Con” on November 5!


A mixed post – A couple of pictures from a weekend game and some “Work-in-progress” pics

September 27, 2011
Hello everyone!

I thought I would write up a brief post on what I have been up to.  Let’s see…I woke up at the crack of 4:00 am, neck was a little sore.  Brushed teeth, combed hair (lamenting about its continued thinning) and then…oh, sorry.  ;)  You’d probably rather hear about what gaming and miniatures stuff I’ve been doing!

Sunday I went to “Ambush Sunday” at Unique Games and Gifts in Grayslake, Illinois.  The game was, once again, “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games.  The theme was a little different this time: Aliens vs. aliens.  A totally non-human themed scenario.  Cool, actually.

This scenario, which I am only briefly covering, pitted the “hard-to-kill” Crusties (minis by GZG - attributes by “Tomorrow’s War”) against [cue ominous, deep, echoey voice] “Spaaaccce Buuugsss!”  Uh, “Space Bugs”, also called “Spugs” for short.  Okay, they aren’t the official “Rattlehead Games” Spugs models, but they are very buggy, and from space, so…

I don’t know who made the space bug minis.  Check with Beast’s Wargaming Blog; Jim will be happy to tell y’all.  He painted them up VERY nicely though.

The Space Bug force, complete with a Gigantic Vehicle Tank

The Space Bug force was all gathered up in a “Zerg rush” format, strategy right out of “Starcraft”.  Sadly, the poor Crusties, who had already deployed, had set up a great position to fight an opponent who used something resembling normal human tactics.

Beautiful terrain and tactically deployed Crusties

Interlocking fields of fire and defense in-depth don’t do squat against a “Zerg Rush” at one spot.  Now I know how it was to face the Posleen (John Ringo book reference).

A Crustie squad helping guard the cat food factory

The Crusties did not have a good day.  Do these guys look happy? ;)

Seriously though, we experienced what sometimes happens when you put a scenario together on the fly – the Space Bug side ended up way overpowered.  It happens sometimes.  We figured out how to correct the scenario but got sidetracked before we could replay it.  It was still fun and, as always, I still state that every wargame tells a story.  This was the story of a seemingly victorious force of Crusties who drove the humans out of the town and took over the cat food factory only to be overrun by vermin.  Vermin that stood 6 feet tall and wielded plasma rifles!  “We’re gonna need a bigger flyswatter!”

On other topics, I have been working on the cool stuff I purchased from Scott of “Combat Wombat Miniatures” when I met him at the “Recruits” gaming convention in Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

http://www.combatwombatminiatures.com/

Combat Wombat has occasionally been bringing his collection of “factory seconds”, models that end up sub-standard during the molding process, and selling them at a discounted rate at conventions.  I got lucky enough to stalk him at “Recruits” on Friday night until his booth was open enough for me to start pawing through his “seconds” box.  The pictures below are some of the minis.  I have been working on them, patching a few bubble holes and sanding down some warpage.  Some people pay a premium for minis in worse shape than these.

Some of the minis I purchased from Combat Wombat

Yeah, it’s a mixed bag, but I am trying out several different ideas for forces.

If this is his "substandard" you should see his good stuff...

He would have normally thrown these away as rejects.  Scott has very high quality standards and his customer service is first rate.  He’s also fun to hang out with!

I thought I would show how I magnetized some of the turrets

More pieces.  These with turrets flipped over to show how I magnetized them.  I am silly enough to like having rotating turrets on my tanks so I can point them at the enemy vehicles and say “BANG!”  Magnetizing turrets on epoxy vehicles is dead easy.  A little *careful* drill work, some epoxy or super glue and the right sized neodymium magnets and away you go.

These minis ought to paint up marvelously.  Yes, they took me some more time and work but it was fun.  The “Combat Wombat Miniatures” standard products are gorgeous and quite affordable.  I am saying they are a good deal.

Note:  I am a customer of “Combat Wombat Miniatures”, not an advertiser or payed flunky.  I am saying these good things about him because I am pleased with his product.  I believe that if you buy his stuff you will be pleased too.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Thanks for reading and I hope to have more stuff to write about soon!


Review of the Fall 2011 release of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games and Osprey Publishing

September 20, 2011

Greetings All!

I have had my hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” by Ambush Alley Games for a little over a week now.  I have read it, referenced it, waved it around and used it in the games I ran at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  I recently read that some folks are looking for some reviews on the “Tomorrow’s War” rules – it being a couple of weeks before it is officially released.  So, here goes my review of the Fall 2011 release of the “Tomorrow’s War” rules.  I hope my tens of readers of my blog will like it! ;)

“Tomorrow’s War” – Review by Walworth County Wargamer

So…where to begin…well, first the Earth cooled.  And then there were dinosaurs!  But they all died and became oil…oops, that was the movie “Airplane”.  Let me try again.

About a year ago I was intrigued by the Ambush Alley Games talk of “Tomorrow’s War”.  I found a local gaming con last November where I had a chance not only to try it out but to meet Shawn and Peggy of Ambush Alley Games and to also meet Jim Roots, one of the developers.  I lucked out in that Jim is somewhat local to me.  Okay, about an hour drive to game with him at a friendly local game store, but I have a Prius and an iron @$$, so it works. 

I liked what I played enough to immediately purchase the “expansion” version of “Tomorrow’s War” that they were bundling with a copy of “Force on Force” if you bought them electronically as pdf files.  Within a week I created my first horribly unbalanced scenario involving Warhammer 40K Tau and Orks.  I got better at balancing things after that. 

I also got to game somewhat regularly with Jim Roots and his son Wil, who taught me a lot more about the game.  Being an enthusiastic glutton for punishment I joined the development group as a playtester and have played quite a few really cool scenarios.

So, what do you get if you purchase this Osprey Publishing version of “Tomorrow’s War”? This is not an expansion or a supplement.  This edition of “Tomorrow’s War” is a stand-alone game. The basic print quality of the hardbound book is excellent.  The photographs, artwork, tables and such just explode off the pages.  It feels like it is worth what you paid for it.  The printing of black text on the often blue backgrounds can be a little hard to read at times but that is a fairly minor fault.  I can still read everything.

After getting my hands on my very own hardcover copy of “Tomorrow’s War” I dived right in with it at the “Recruits” gaming convention.  Having the *real* book as opposed to my “big honking binder” with my playtester’s copy was very nice.  The tables were easy to flip to, the table of contents was nice and having an Index is awesome.  I wish the Index was a little more extensive but it is not bad.

Well, that’s the book, but what about the game?  I’m getting to that, okay? [mental note: when you are writing a blog and you start hearing your readers in your head, perhaps it is time for a vacation]

“Tomorrow’s War” – The Game

Whether somebody likes, dislikes or just doesn’t care about a game is a very subjective thing.  Me, I like the Ambush Alley Games products a lot.  “Tomorrow’s War” is turning out to be *that game* that I have been looking for.  It works for me.  Very obviously your mileage may vary.  So let me go forward with what *I* like with “Tomorrow’s War”.

Top of the list is the concept of “Action – Reaction” that is the basis of the AAG gaming system.  It goes roughly like this: Player 1 (who has the initiative) activates a unit.  That unit could be infantry, like a Marine fireteam, or it could be armor, like a tank or an APC. Player 1 could choose to Move, to Fire, to Move and then Fire, to Fire and then Move or a few other special options. Player 2 happens to a have a unit within “Line-of-Sight” of this activated unit.  Player 2 *may* choose to attempt to “React” to the action of Player 1’s unit.  This is done by declaring the Reaction and stating what you are going to do, i.e. Fire or Move.  The players then roll Troop Quality dice to see whether the Reaction was successful or not.

I love this basic “Action-Reaction” game mechanic.  If you are the non-initiative player you are never just sitting there waiting for your opponent to move and then to fire on your immobile forces.  You *always* have your head in the game.  You are always looking to perform that perfect maneuver, to line up that great shot or to successfully take cover so as to spoil the other guy’s great shot. By its nature the mechanic emphasizes mobility and fluid combat.  It encourages it.

This is well-polished in “Tomorrow’s War”.  I find that the book guides you through the sequence of play and provides decent examples of how to perform the basics.  The rulebook is divided up into several sections, each section capped off with a sample scenario that “puts it all together” for what was covered before.  These are good scenarios too!  They are fun to play.

The Number 2 thing I like about “Tomorrow’s War” is how the rules are “layered”.  You can play perfectly fun games with just the very basic rules and not miss much of anything. 

I am *not* an expert at the game but I was able to get groups of people playing a moderately complex scenario with about 20 minutes of convention time.  After the first couple of turns they needed very little guidance.  The only charts I had to keep referring to were the Vehicle Damage charts and the First Aid charts for casualties. They didn’t miss Morale and Bail-Out rules for tank crews or deck attacks from infantry-launched missiles.  Those could certainly have been included but I didn’t see a need to add the complexity to the scenario.

The rulebook is *replete* with examples and explanations.  It makes it seem like there are a lot more rules than there actually are.  The explanations guide you through things pretty well.  If you still have questions, the Ambush Alley Games Forum on their website has lots of friendly people.  Shawn and Peggy both post there frequently (many times daily) answering questions and making comments.  People will help you if you don’t understand something.  More importantly, if you just plain don’t like a rule then Shawn will happily advise you to change things to your heart’s content when you play.  It is *your* game, after all.  You’re supposed to have fun with it.  ;)

The rulebook is written with 15mm scale miniatures in mind.  However, if you want to scale up or down that is no problem.  You may just have to adjust move distances up or down accordingly.  I have used 6mm, 10mm, 15mm and 28mm scale minis in TW games.

There is no worry about weapon ranges.  With a few exceptions all weapons are assumed to have unlimited range on the game boards we are using.  If you consider that at 15mm scale an M1 Abrams has a range of over 40 feet (over 12 meters) then you can see why this is.  There are “optimum’ ranges, based on Troop Quality, where troops have an easier time hitting their targets.  Nothing too complicated.

Okay, now does “Tomorrow’s War” deliver a “sci-fi” feel to the rules and gameplay?  You betcha!  This is not just an add-on for “Force on Force”.  This is written from the ground up to be a hard Sci-Fi wargame.  From basic body armor rules up to full powered armor, from low-tech slug-throwing combat rifles to laser rifles to energy weapons that project streams of plasma, from track-laying tanks to air-cushion hover tanks to grav vehicles – it’s all there, fully integrated.  There are rules for combat drones of all sorts, how to fight in a vacuum and even how to deal with a unit that is overstressed from being on the sharp end for too long.

You also get asymmetric engagements (we have them today; we’ll have them tomorrow), Close-Air Support and Off-Board Artillery.  A full 3 dimensional combined arms battlefield awaits.

The first thirty-two pages of the “Tomorrow’s War” rulebook are taken up with the author’s “game universe” describing events and places for about the next 200 years.  Some folks have commented that this is the weakest part of the rule book.  You can certainly ignore it and play the game to whatever background you wish.  Me, I have gamed David Drake’s “Hammer’s Slammers”, things from Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 universe and even just scratch games of no particular background.  It all works.  BUT, the “game universe” the authors created for “Tomorrow’s War” is actually kind of cool.  There are some good ideas there that can lead to creating some great scenarios and campaigns.  Read it, digest it and think about it.

What does “Tomorrow’s War” not have?

If you look through what I have discussed so far you might notice something lacking.  How do you set up a game?  Are there points so you can have balanced forces? Well, the rule book and core mechanics for the game are NOT written with “points” and “1000 point armies” in mind.  Like “Force on Force” and “Ambush Alley”, “Tomorrow’s War” is a scenario-driven game.  And the scenarios are mission-driven.  In a scenario the goals of each side can be wildly different than just “kill all the opposing side”.  More importantly, just as in real life, the forces available may be quite uneven.  In war you fight with the army you have, not the army you want.

How does this equal fun games? How do you set up a scenario that is going to be fun to play?  Well, the creators of “Tomorrow’s War” have promised some sort of basic “points” system to be available for download by the official release time for the rulebook.  I think it will help people get started with the game but I also think that most folks will “outgrow” it.  For one thing I know that many people are developing TW scenarios of all sorts that will be freely available.  These will take place in various science fiction backgrounds from movies, books and video games.  For another, if you play a few games of this you quickly get the feel for how to balance a scenario.  They play quickly enough that if you figured wrong it is easy enough to adjust things and try again.

“Tomorrow’s War” is like all the other Ambush Alley games in that Troop Quality is the most important factor.  It is not the weapon the soldier holds that makes him or her effective.  It is the training, the conditioning, the esprit de corp.  The rules as written reflect that.  Some people don’t like that focus as much.  That is fine.  This game, like all games, will not appeal to everyone.  I like the whole troop quality vs weapons quality concept.

The gaming system created by Ambush Alley Games is focused on results.  It is not focused on the precision minutia of weapons and ammo performance. It abstracts them, instead concentrating on the importance of the QUALITY of the soldiers who are using the tools.  The way I explain this is: “Give a group of U.S. Navy Seals some cornmeal, some popsicle sticks and some hot dogs and I am sure they can use them to kill the enemy.  Give a group of fresh soldiers right out of basic the same materials and they might, maybe end up with corn dogs…probably burned. Give those materials to the average third-world insurgent and they will probably harm themselves…

“Tomorrow’s War” also has a scale it works best at.  Not scale as in 15mm, 28mm or 6mm – I have played TW with minis at all those scales.  What I mean is that it best represents squad to company sized engagements.  You would get a bit bogged down with larger ones and it is not a “skirmish” game for individual characters.  In fact, the structure of the game system doesn’t have “characters”.  When played at the scale it is intended for the game plays very well.  I have had games last a half hour to about three hours. That varies with the size of the game and the experience of the players.  They have all been fun, so far.

What else “works” with “Tomorrow’s War”?

Well, the “Action/Reaction” system works really well for big tank battles. I have had two people play a 2 hour game that involved over 2 dozen heavy and light tanks, contesting a river crossing.  They were both new at it and they still had a great time. [note: I need to run that one again.  It was way fun to do.]

Finally, I have a “love/hate” relationship with the “Tomorrow’s War” “Fog of War” cards.  What are they?  Well, one of the optional rules you can layer on for great fun and randomness is the addition of “Fog of War” cards.  If one side or the other rolls a “1” when making a troop quality check during an “Action/Reaction” they then must draw one of the special “Fog of War” cards.  The results of the card usually take place immediately.  These results can be things like one of your vehicles breaking down, a random artillery round strikes one of your units, a storm blows up and visibility drops for everyone – any number of things.  It is a mix of things that will mess with you and help your opponent or vice-versa, or even things that will mess with everyone.  They really tend to flesh out the scenario and can turn it from a “game” into a “story”.

Why the “love/hate” relationship?  Because the cards seem to hate me and tend to screw me at every opportunity, that’s why! ;)  I think they are in collusion with my dice…

Should “Tomorrow’s War” be on my “I gotta have it” list?

Confession time – I am a Ambush Alley Games fanboy…sort of.  I like the games, I like the game system.  As I said earlier, it “works” for me.  I have fun while playing TW and I have noticed other folks have fun too. 

“Tomorrow’s War” is not a game aimed at competitive tournaments. It is a game for gamers to have relaxed, fun games where they question their opponent’s parentage and threaten their own dice with the microwave…well, yeah, but still having fun and laughs while doing it.  Many of the games I have played are worthy of stories because of how they turned out.  This will work for some people and not be other’s cup of tea.

If it sounds good to you then check it out.  I have had fun with it and I think that other people will too.  If it seems like it is not for you then that is fine too.  Life is short and gaming time is shorter.  Play the games you enjoy!  I will do the same.


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