Wednesday, 26 February 2014

15mm Rouge Trader Project Part 1

Those of you with a long memory may remember GW releasing a sci-fi supplement for WFB 2nd edition back in about 1987(*). For a variety of reasons this never really took off, I suspect this may have been because in the 1980s science-fiction was regarded as the red-headed stepchild of UK gaming, and GW never really had the time, resources nor inclination to push it much. Perhaps it was thought that it might cannibalise sales from their main breadwinner, the Warhammer line.

1987 was, as you'll remember, just before WFB3 got released and the huge push they did on the armies of the Southern Chaos Incursions, Men of the East, Cathay/Nippon, Amazons, Zoat Empire and Slann. Then, as the nineties approached, they scrapped Realm of Chaos (which according to rumour was finally close to release and had even spilt over into two huge hardbacked books) and replaced it with the newer Michael Moorcock-licensed version, and then they had their Chaos-everything phase - The Jez Goodwin sculpted Chaos Slann range being probably the high point of this particular period. I even still have my promotional ginger mullet wig from the launch day of those figures at Games Workshop Birmingham back when it was sited above New Street Station.

There was also that nasty incident on the M25 during the Dark Future LARP in the early 90s that was being televised for Channel 4 and I guess the resulting legal squabbles consumed a lot of time and cash to resolve.

By their own admittance, GW got "fat and lazy" when their "Troll" series of childrens' games flew off the shelves of Toys R Us and brought them enough cash to be able to invest in 3D printing technology but the requirement of a 286 processor to operate these left it outside of the pocket of many gamers and this started a worrying run of hemorrhaging cash, only alleviated when Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone returned from sabbaticals in Spain and bought their old company back. Of course Steve and Ian were fantasy guys through and through and with the Warhammer World starting to look a bit tired and old hat in those days that was when GW started to shift all their fantasy games over to Allansia/Titan and then there was little hope of a sci-fi supplement ever appearing for WFB3.

The rest is, as they say, history.

Still, I always liked this little supplement for WFB2. Making a few 28mm figures for it perhaps wasn't the best idea, the size of those things is always too big for "firearm" combat especially when tanks get involved and had they carried on with it, it's obvious that eventually games would have degenerated into slogging matches of hundreds of figures and stupidly large vehicles with no room to manoeuvre and requiring enough dice rolling to induce wanker's cramp in a generation of schoolboys(**). I did once hear a rumour from an ex-GW redshirt that they expected so much dice rolling to be required that there were prototypes of done of horrid little dice only 12mm in length, rather than the industry standard of 16mm, simply because they felt that there were too many dice to be rolled in one go and people couldn't hold them all in their hands. Ridiculous.


A long time ago, probably even twenty years ago, I saw a skirmish game at the Stourbridge club using the large, chunky 15mm sci-fi range from Irregular Miniatures and some home brew rules. What immediately struck me was that the troop density, spacing and weapon ranges in this particular bash were all fairly close to contemporary 40K but that the smaller size of the figures (and corresponding "lighter" look to the table) suited these far, far better than 28mm. I immediately realised that, should a suitable figure range be available, 15mm was a better scale for Rogue Trader - it was cheaper, quicker to paint and actually (when viewed as a game, not as individual figures) looked better, particularly when vehicles were involved. 40K figures looked oversize for their rules.

At the time the opinion in the club was 40K was best when played with small forces - perhaps 20 marines a side with a hero and light vehicle/robot a player - on tables with lots of cover. Most of our games ended up being played in a jungle or "forest moon".

What I didn't know back then was that previously 15mm had been something of a standard for sci-fi gaming - it was the scale of both Laserburn and Striker.


Then nothing happened for a long time.


But now, now...

The first five of my tiny Battle Brethren (yeah, iPhone, poor lighting, red paint, gloss varnish. I don't make it easy on myself)

And the other five brothers in the squad. All Work In Progress as I'm waiting on some dead grass static flock to arrive from eBay (I'm thinking dark grey "Welsh Slate Mine" basing with pale dead grass for contrast).

Figures are all from Critical Mass Games and are the Arc Fleet Augments. The Arc Fleet is a sort of not-Halo thing and the augments appear to be some form of boosted superhuman elite. The marines are from codes AFAU1-4. The crouching heavy weapons chap is also Critical Mass from one of the "Blockhead Mercenaries" codes MERC6 or MERC7 (I bought both).

I bought these back at the St Helens show in June 2013 and wasn't inspired to do much more than paint one or two of them but then last Sunday I found some funky useful Matchbox/Hot Wheels diecasts in Wilkinsons (for the princely sum of £1.25 each) and caught the enthusiasm all over again.

Firstly there was the Matchbox "Amphi Flyer".

Still Work In Progress with just the base coats on as you can see. The Boy Coop's thought patterns were as follows

"Oooohhhhhh, that would make a great troop transport for 10/15mm sci-fi."


"Oh, hang on, something's nagging at the back of my mind."

Further pause

"Fuck me, I'd forgotten about them!"

(and this is how the 15mm Rouge Trader project gets dragged out of hibernation).

Originally I wanted this to be a some form of armoured transport but then it turned out to look a bit too small. However next idea that sprang to mind was a memory of the Pan-Euro Galahad GEV from OGRE...

So I went running off to RT to check the Hover vehicles. The example Hover vehicle is the good old Landspeeder which didn't really seem to fit (it's open topped for a start) but then I remembered another Old School light hovertank. This mofo...

FUCKING GRAV-ATTACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

So I'm after more of these things now.

Second die-cast discovery was these two - Hot Wheels "Sky Knife", a really funky helicopter/autogyro design with an enclosed rear rotor.

I didn't need to go back to RT to know what these were intended to become -

A slightly obscure piece of 40K history but one that fits in with my view of RT as best with light vehicles. (Unless the scenario is about taking down a big bastard, OGRE-style).

I also picked up a Hot Wheels "Max Steel Turbo Racer" but there is no point me showing it here as, displaying once again the Internet's genius at same-day synchronity,  when I Googled it, I found a link to the same car, done in the same intended colour scheme over at Dropship Horizon. So go and look at that there instead.

 Next plans - more Not-Grav Attacks and waiting for my delivery of these tiny beauties to arrive.

(*) I am indebted to Zhu Baijee for this observation posted on the Oldhammer forum.
(**) Assuming that Debbie Harry, Lita Ford and Transvision Vamp's Wendy James didn't do this first.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Dreadball 2 Brutal Deluxe


Is the first Simon Bisley-designed 28mm miniature? There's a question for the Oldhammer metal model trivia fans.

I never knew the Speedball 2 cover guy had a name - perhaps he didn't until just now!

The original from 1990.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Githyanki Eddie

I know absolutely nothing about this other than it turned up unbidden in my tumblr feed.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Would Citadel Miniatures Have Been a Better Name?

OK, fairly serious question/discussion fodder time. I know this might strike you as somewhat unusual because you are expecting some surly and aggressive attitude and/or use of phrases like "wankshaft" and "monkey spunk" but hey, I'm nearly 40 soon and it's about time I grew up.

Everyone knows that the modern Games Workshop is the result of a reverse takeover whereby the subsidiary (Citadel Miniatures) took over the parent company and changed it's direction from a general gaming and RPG company into a pure wargames one. And upset a lot of people along the way.

But would there be as much opprobrium if the company name had changed to match? If these shops everyone hates having to go into had the words CITADEL MINIATURES SHOP above them instead and the GAMES WORKSHOP name and red/yellow/white logo had been phased out?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Titan Games Stourbridge

A new FLGS opened up last year in the Black Country, Titan Games Stourbridge, a satellite offshoot (call it what you will) of the main branch of Titan Games in Lichfield.

This is pretty good news but would have been pretty fucking good news twenty-odd years ago due to it's location in Lower High Street, Stourbridge. Why? This why;

See? I even forgot to label "Coop's favourite chip shop 1990-1992" which is just off the right hand side of that piece of Google Mappery about 25% of the way up. Fucking hated that school as well.

Run by Brett and Steve (ex-Games Workshop) the store is very much what is now called Post-GW - in that it has a large core customer base of disgruntled ex-GW customers who are branching out in all the other games that the Reichstag mysteriously don't believe to be direct competition.

The scene there is hot on Warmachine, X-Wing, Star Trek Attack Wing, MtG, Mantic and Malifaux. I've played MtG and Kings of War there a few times, took part in a Dreadball "chess ladder" league and met Alessio Cavatore who was demoing Shurro. I got him to sign my KoW hardback and told the nephew (who was in attendance) that Alessio not only wrote Kow and editions of Warhammer but was in The Return of the King. He is now regarded as a God amongst men by at least one ten year in Dudley...

They stock the full range of Citadel, Army Painter and P3 paints and have a fair few gaming tables. Great place run by very enthustiastic lads with a large friendly scene of locals.

Titan Games
31 Lower High St,
West Midlands
 DY8 1TA
01384 395687

Friday, 7 February 2014

My Cryxmans Let Me Show You Them

I'm going to play Warmachine and you aren't going to stop me. Fuckers I end up playing against might but right now I'm not listening to your well-intentioned warnings.

War-Witch Chlamydia along with her pet warjacks, Tiny Clanger, Small Clanger, Granny Clanger and Cuntdestroyer (the big one).

These little mans were effectively free as I poured a few months worth of loose change into the change machine at Sainsbury's and I had just over thirty quid there and just over thirty quid was the price of the Cryx box at Titan Games Stourbridge so that was that sorted. Also, I had been ruminating on the idea of starting Warma for quite a while now as I don't play any "points values" games and felt that accordingly I was missing out on quite a bit of gaming. You know what I mean, "40K next week, 1850 points" that sort of thing. This is quite easy to arrange - when every game is a special scenario it starts to become too much work to cope with all the time.

(The last game I planned in was a special scenario job - Battletech using the cardboard buildings from Dropzone Commander. One of my 'mechs had the engine fall out. Another overheated on the last turn. It was if I was piloting 1970s Lancias.)

This isn't actually the first time I've looked at Warma and Cryx. Years back I bought the metal starter box, opened it, looked at the number of pieces, closed it, left it on the shelf for six months, swapped it for something else at the club. This version of the warband is the newer plastic/resin aka restic and went together nicely with a bit of superglue even though the Warjack had the largest piece of flash I have ever seen on a wargames model - I seriously contemplated grinding it off the Dremel FFS...

So it was cheap, I needed something to play, wanted a quick-and-dirty paint slapping project and... alright so I'm trying to self-justify it to myself.

Well the rulebook (Warmachine Prime) is nice, it was £18 in softcover and comes with four mini army list sections so you can sit down with your new rulebook, a cup of tea and a couple of Eccles cakes and decide upon what you want to play. This is nice and in considerable contrast to another company that would charge you £45 and give you precisely no army lists.

You might be picking up a slight air of apprehension about this whole thing. It's a new army, painted (I'll say that again shall I - clears throat - painted), a new game to play and there is a whole shop full of players in my old school town. Hooray!

Well, maybe.

The problem I am keen to avoid is this - I really like Magic the Gathering. I particularly like multiplayer Magic the Gathering and the Commander/EDH format is fantastic. But what I really like is Magic the Gathering played against a small group of friends who have actually the same attitude to the game as me.

I do not like MtG when played in the tournament style - optimisation, optimisation, optimisation, the win is all. There is nothing inherently wrong with this and for some people that style of play is enjoyable and why they play. And I can see the attraction of that as an intellectual exercise. I'm not even suggesting that there is something unpleasant about that style of player or it's fans - it's simply not for me. It's not a matter of sportsmanship or being pleasant/unpleasant company so I'm not character assassinising(*) anyone.

When I've played MtG against the tournament crowd, it's been a boring and deathly dull game. In many ways this isn't surprising - the nature of blue cards in that game basically specialises in stopping the opposing player from doing anything. It's tempting to view the mathematically perfect game of MtG (at least from the victors point of view) as one in which you go first and set off a long chaining combo of draws and plays that wins the thing without the other guy getting a single draw. And many people would applaud the cleverness of that even if they were on the receiving end of it. Personally I would regard it as a waste of my Saturday afternoon.

My wargaming is similar. I play the game to push stuff around, roleplay/make believe that I am a great Captain-General/Space Marine Chapter Master/ Fighter Pilot, enjoy the tactile and visual appeal of figures, laugh at some outrageous fortune (good and bad) and see what story unfolds within the game.

I don't regard it as some form of competitive sport that demands self-improvement and study/analysis. I can't help but feel that people who do are missing the point and trying to cram and manipulate a loose-structured game form that requires player co-operation(**) and isn't really about win/loss into a competitive format.

(In fact, going back to MtG for a moment in multi-player games we have seem to have developed, quite without any agreement to do so, a social contract that governs how and why we play. Players who start badly get left alone to allow them to build up something they might want to play with. Sometimes players would be finished off but get rescued by someone else in order to keep them in the game. Players get ganged up upon until it's no longer funny. People wait for amusing or ridiculous combos to come out so they can witness the effects and revel in the chaos rather than strangle them at birth with not-fun blue instants).

Yeah, Warmachine it seems full of this "it's a competitive sport, bring your 'A' game motherfucker it's time for trash talks and I'll rape(***) your army's ass" tiresome bullshit. Curiously I blame Workshop for this. Oh, and Americans. Or perhaps more accurately Workshop seen through the filter of Americans. Leastways tournament playing Americans. Well, some of them perhaps.

I am old enough to remember seeing a sea change in what people entered fantasy gaming to do and it seemed to start around the time that WFB and 40K went over to being a game of equal pointed lists from army books. Blog readers of some years standing might remember that I hold WD105 to be, in retrospect, the tipping point between Oldhammer style and points value style.

Now this isn't one way criticism. If you disagree with me, I'm not simply saying that you're a twat and you play wrong and I won't enjoy playing with you. I'm equally aware that you won't enjoy playing with me. We'd both have unsatisfying games, one where I'm not interested because you're only interested in winning and one where you're not interested but I've no desire to force you to up your game.


If we avoid each other we'll both enjoy ourselves and hopefully I will quite grow to like Warmachine.


(*) Asassinising - this is a perfectly cromulent word that refers to the use of the Assassinate card in MtG.

(**) By which I mean taking actions that aren't particularly "efficient" but help to improve the game or the "realism" (word used loosely) of the "simulation" (this word also used loosely). Quick test - how many times do you or another player say something "well this would be better for me but it's daft, or not what my little mans would do so I'll do this instead"? Probably a good acid test of whether you and I would enjoy gaming together.

(***) Am I the only person in the world who isn't happy about this modern use of the word rape to describe things as trivial as being utterly smashed in a pointless CCG game? I hope not.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Back to His Contrarian Best

I really liked Warhammer:Visions because, basically, fuck you.

No seriously, I did. For the following reasons

1 - It has no words. Frankly the words were the worst part of White Dwarf post about, ohhh 1991 or so, and the bits they should have been doing a lot less of anyway. All those exclamation marks! Everything so cool and awesome! More fucking exclamation marks! Buy our cool new shit! Better than the old cool shit we no longer acknowledge! You are as cool as fuck because you are a twelve year old boy who wanks too much and has half a Space Marine army painted in spraycan Chaos Black! Look how cool we are in these photographs circa 1996! You could be this cool too!

White Dwarf was a fucking embarrasment to read even in a room where you were on your own and nobody could see in through the windows because you'd had the curtains drawn for the entire summer like my gaming mate Jamie managed throughout 1993. The words always induced a painful level of sheerfuckingcringe, made worse by the gormless mugshots of the perpetrators sited next to them on the page so you ended up actually visualising these poor fuckers uttering this shit while you backed away towards the door praying it would all end soon.

2 - It has stuff painted by people who don't work for GW i.e. GD entries and somebody else's Undead army. The best pictures in WD were always those that hadn't been painted to strict corporate standards by people who didn't give a shit about proper GW colour schemes. Can you imagine Fraser Grey or Michael Immig churning out "highlighted to white on all hard edges" plastic crap for photoshopped GW Studio promotional pics these days? And would you care to see their work if they did?

3 - I like the Tamiya catalogues not because I'm going to buy any of the stuff but simply because you can get lost for hours looking at all the stuff.

4 - I will return again and again to W:V looking for inspiration for colour schemes without actually painting a single model that ever appears in it's pages.

5 - There is no gaming bollocks involved.

6 - I never, ever saw the point of Battle Reports. I know that everybody else on the planet thought that they were the best thing since big tits were invented but I never, ever saw the point as it was always the GW equivalent of that cunt in the 1980s who always insisted on telling you about his 22nd level Fighter-Magic-User and all his exploits and artefacts - Then Nigel rolled the dice and seven Dorfs were removed! Karl-Franz's hammer came down! But the Winds of Magic blew poorly for Ian! It all came down to the last roll of the dice! And The Empire was saved! And we made it all up! Because in the real game Ian rolled dice like a twat and ragequit in a huff!

7- It has German captions and all Warhammer stuff looks more authentic in German. Caslon Antique next time though lads if that's alright.

So there. Fuck you all. I like it and had it been produced in Japanese by a Japanese company and been nightmarishly difficult to lay your hands on it in the UK you'd have all spunked your pants over it.

That said - it was pointed out to me that the large Tyranid special is a direct cut-and-paste from the last ever issue of Not White Dwarf. Not owning that I couldn't really give a shit but if next months W:V has a third of it dedicated to reprints of Dorf stuff from their weekly offering I may start to sour on the whole thing. But since every single person who posts gaming-related stuff on the Internet said in their post of gaming-related stuff on the Internet said it was utter shit, there must somewhere be a corollary that states that this means that somewhere there are ten times as many people who don't post gaming-related stuff on the Internet who thought it was quite good really. And if there isn't such a corollary there fucking well ought to be.