23 July 2011

AAR: Battle of Simla Valley


   News has reached Victoria's Landing of a clash between civilised Europeans and the mechanickal hordes of Doctor Maton. The battle took place yesterdayin the fertile Simla Valley. For those of you new to Mars, the Simla Valley is one of the few really fertile areas on our Red Planet, situated between two major mountain ranges, and the source of the Simla Grand Canal. It is also the site of a major German colonisation attempt, with the frontier village of Simlaburg.

   Apparently, Maton and his human and Martian followers have grown hungry in their mountain hideaways. A raid was planned, to take the food and livestock of the Simla Valley for themselves. To this end, Maton's diabolical boring machine, the Iron Mole, erupted from a rock outcropping in the valley floor, very near the village. Subterranean navigation being what it is (which is quite difficult, actually), Maton failed to erupt through the center of the village as desired.

Maton's Minions, and two of his Female "Assistants" emerge.
The Iron Mole is in the background, near the exit to the tunnel.

   Luckily for the inhabitants of Simlaburg, German and British troops were engaged in 'training exercises' just outside the village on the eastern side of the valley. Also, a large piece of German 'agricultural equipment', the Bauerwerk, was in the forest just outside the western palisade of the village, clearing more land with its immense powered saw and flamethrower. Slash and burn agriculture indeed!

The Bauerwerk clearing land near Simlaburg.

   Just as the Anglo-German 'exercises' were  about to commence in earnest, a sharp-eyed, clean-limbed Tommy spotted the Mad Genius's men emerging from the tunnel. According to reports in the German colony, one of the Kaiser's men also managed to spot them, although this journalist believes that to be Hun propaganda. Both European forces immediately turned against the mechanickal menace to attempt to stop the oncoming brazen hordes.

Germans and British about to begin their 'exercises.'

   The European forces swung to face the western edge of the valley, from whence the threat came. Before long, even the Bauerwerk noticed the oncoming hordes, and moved from the woods to defend the village and its precious food.

One of Maton's objectives: the swine of Simlaburg.

   More and more automatons emerged from the tunnel: steam-powered spiders, piloted half-jacks, hoverbots built from stolen unobtainite, scuttling steam turtles, and finally, the dreaded Destroyer, with its twin Galvanic Accelerator Cannons! The multitude of mechanickal menaces kept Maton and his assistants running about, ensuring all was in ordnung. Slowly, they advanced. Slowly, except for the speedy hoverbots, which made directly for one platoon of our redcoated heroes! For a few minutes, our men fought the swooping villains to a standstill, but their valour was no match for the armour and snapping talons of the foe, and they were forced to retreat. Just as destruction seemed inevitable, the flying machines suddenly malfunctioned and froze in place for a critical moment. Our men escaped their peril, leaving too many fellows on the ground behind them, but allowing the second platoon a clear shot at the hoverbots. The ensuing fusilade of fury brought down all but two of the tormentors.

   Meanwhile, on the left wing of the battle, the Bauerwerk fired off its industrial flamethrower, sending some of Maton's human henchmen to their eternal rewards. ASA #27 also brought its flamethrower into action. Though designed only for anti-material use, it worked admirably against Maton's henchmen, and even caught his Oriental assistant in its spray, killing the misguided woman in a mercifully short blast of heat. The second assault group, however, managed to close on the Bauerwerk and attach Galvanic-Magneto Bombs to its sturdy legs. In the process, the Bauerwerk's powered saw shredded a pair of them, but they made good their escape. However, the minions botched the job of placement, and the explosions failed to penetrate the tough metal of the Bauerwerk's legs.

Maton's human Minions assault the Bauerwerk

   With the HMLS Prince Charles (affectionately known as Bonnie Prince Charlie by its Scots crew) approaching the battlezone, the minions gathered for a second assault, rightly fearing the searing flame that gouted forth from the landships armoured flanks. The Bauerwerk charged into the steam turtles, destroying one and causing confusion in the mechanickal minds of the others, which froze in place for a considerable length of time, which the Bauerwerk put to excellent use, disposing of three more before they began to react. Maton's troops began to recoil from the strong armoured left flank and the approach of the German rifles on that end of the line. The village was saved!

   Back on the right, Maton's fortunes were also going awry. The dreaded Destroyer must have miscalculated the fall of shot with its shrapnel shell, as it failed to explode, and only killed one member of the platoon on which it fired. Rifle and cannon fire from German troops whittled away at the scuttling steam spiders.

  It was at this point that Maton's nerve failed, and he ordered his remaining forces back into the tunnel, with the Destroyer in the rear, bringing the tunnel mouth down behind the retreating mastermind. Having made good his escape, I am sure we shall be hearing from the Mad Belgian again.

[Editor's Note: A G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. game played yesterday afternoon with my sons. Dane played the Automatons. Greyson had the Brits, and I ran the Germans. Anglo-German cooperation was not good (English troops twice masked the foe from the German artillery, for instance). Really, the minions were wiped out by some lucky dice rolls, and the automatons were paralysed by malfunctions. Still need to tweak their stats - too many malfunctions. No units were totally wiped out before time ran out, but things did indeed look dark for the Mad Belgian Genius, Herr Doktor Professor Otto Maton!]

18 July 2011

Popular Mechanicks, Issue #6


Proxie-Trencher Landship

Engine parts removed for Security Purposes
Photos from Proxie Models Website

   The latest thing in modern mechanickal warfare is the armoured fighting vehicle. These take many forms, from aerial gunboats to ostrich-like walkers. But the heaviest armour and guns are fitted to the landships operated by the Royal Navy. And the Navy's newest landship is being unveiled here and now: the Proxie "Trencher"-class Landship.

   The Trencher is fitted with a new propulsion system so secret that no photostats may be taken of it, on pain of violation of the State Secrets and Treasonous Activities Act. However, we can divulge that the vehicle is armed with a main gun in a 360-degree powered traverse turret, and sponson-mounted guns to either side, as well as a heavy reciprocator in the forward hull. With a crew of ten protected behind armour nearly as thick as a light cruiser's, it can still travel at speeds rivaling the fastest of cavalry (under ideal conditions).

   The first squadron of these formidable vessels has already been purchased for training purposes on Earth. Additional squadrons are expected to be purchased for use throughout the British Solar Empire in the near future.

[Editor's Note: I just found out about these about 10 minutes ago, from a post on The Orky 15mm Sci Fi blog. The owner of that blog is making a Praetorian army for 40K in 15mm. Nice work going on there, and then I saw the tanks! I'll be buying a box of them (3 for $10!!!) today. The photo, by the way, comes from their website, and is used without permission, but I have a feeling they won't mind as long as it sends customers their way. Which I hope it does. These are awesome.]

12 July 2011

Report: Historicon 2011, Day 3

   I know it has been a few days, but I am just now fully recovered from my relaxing stay in lovely Pennsylvania. Not that I saw a whole lot of it, because I spent most of the time indoors.  But you don't want to hear about all that - you want to know about the games!

Beautiful terrain from Miniature Building Authority.

  So by now it is Saturday, the last real day of games for Historicon. I have a game at 0900, a WWII game using a rules system new to me called NUTS! It's from Two Hour Wargames. The scenario was pretty simple: D-Day, American Airborne forces approach a village held by the Wehrmacht. Wehrmacht must hold village. Didn't enjoy the game. One of the main opponents was a 'psychic.' Always knew what my troops were doing even if there was no way for the troops to have such information. I didn't like the rules either. One of my troops dropped a hand grenade into a room full of Amis, rolled the best result possible, and the result was that two of the GIs charged up the stairs and killed not one but three Germans at the top. One of the Germans was my second best guy, and a 'Hero', unloaded his SMG at the GIs, while waiting at the top for them to approach, and missed totally. An unbalanced scenario maybe, and a bad opponent for sure, but any result that leaves a group of people in an enclosed area in which a grenade has gone off totally unharmed - not stunned, not anything? Needs work.


Amis appear in the woods and ambush a Wehrmacht patrol

  My next game wasn't to be until 1900, so I thought I'd hit the vendor's area and Wally's Basement (the flea market). the boys, on the other hand, were headed to their game at 1300; a game of Car Wars. I've been playing the game off and on since about 1983. Even been planning on getting a Matchbox scale game set up. So the boys take off; about 1305, I get a call from Greyson and they need another player since there's only the two of them there to play. Had a pretty good time. Killed Greyson's car, got rear-ended by a ramplate but survived (barely!), got revenge on the rammer by virtually eliminating him. Time was just about up so we called it, and I won (only 'kill').

My car. Twin MGs and a bumper trigger.

Dane in red, Greyson in green, myself in the rear.

   My last game was one of the ones I most anticipated since registering: a G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T. fleet battle. Simple scenario was that a new German aircraft carrier was damaged by a storm, and the British are trying to capture it while the Germans seek to prevent that.

Patrol boat HMS Courageous (fore) and cruiser HMS Essex

   I liked the game. It was very similar to Battles by G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T., and so it was familiar, with a few changes which had to be made in order to accomodate the third dimension. It seemed impossible to get to the carrier (the Valkyrie) before she made it off the table, and it proved so. Highlights of the game include the performance of HMS Cossack, one of my patrol boats absorbing fire from two German patrol boats and a German cruiser. After several turns, she was a wreck, and had three commanding officers killed aboard her. Finally, she settled to the surface, with no guns, no engine, and no officers left! Things looked very bad for the British side until the battleship finally got within range. Three German capital ships were crippled or destroyed, and three escorts, to the loss of three escorts on the British side. The Valkyrie did manage to escape, however.

The Valkyrie.

  The Valkyrie is a total scratch-built job, except for the mast and the flight stand. Absolutely beautiful piece of work. I especially like the raised hangar on the flight deck.

08 July 2011

Despatches from Pennsylvania, Day 2


   The major disappointment of the day was the fact that the Sky Galleons of Mars game that I was most looking forward to had a no-show. GM was at the con, and picked up his badge, but simply did not appear to run his game. It disappointed about 12 players who waited a half an hour to see if he was just running a bit late. This kind of thing should result in him paying for his entry, rather than receiving a free GM pass, barring some extenuating circumstances. For example, two years ago I had a game canceled at the last minute because the GM's wife got very ill and he had to take her to the hospital. Legitimate excuse. But this kind of thing happens a little too often to be an emergency situation (not this particular GM, just an observation in general).

   In other news, a strange rabbit-man was spotted in the Valley Forge area. If you see this man, simply back away slowly and keep your hand upon your wallet. He has a variety of devilish methods of separating innocent passersby from their heard earned money.

Nic Robson of Eureka Miniatures
Bunnyman and All-Around Good Guy

06 July 2011

One More Gaming Project: New Pulp Robot for German Army

  Another interesting thing I found, while checking the backlog of blogs I follow. I shall be stealing this idea, and am actually writing down the figure as I type this. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

One More Gaming Project: New Pulp Robot for German Army: "I started collecting Monsterpocalypse when it first came out and was struck by the conversion potential of many of the miniatures. I finally..."

Highlander Studios, Inc.: Space: 1889 15mm update

   Some excellent news that you should definitely check out!

Highlander Studios, Inc.: Space: 1889 15mm update: " The latest Space: 1889 figures will be delivered to Frank Chadwick for review. I'll have some photos of painted examples on the blog in..."

Historicon 2011, Day 0 (Wednesday)


   Up at 0300, arrive at airport security at 0440. Minis in carryon and my Crocs test positive for RDX, a military grade explosive. Needless to say, it took a while to clear that up, but we still made our plane with some time to spare. Get to Atlanta, change planes to Allentown, PA. The little jet can't take our carryons, so we have to check them anyway. Naturally, some of the minis got messed up by the bag smashers as a result. The same minis that caused all the trouble at Houston security. I should have just packed them in the check baggage in the first place, I guess. Oh well.

   That was the only real problem with the travel, though, so not too bad. Hotel was right, rental car fine, etc. Registration at the convention went pretty smoothly, and our badges are right. Free swag in the registration bag (x3, 1 for each of us):
  • 1 sprue of Perry plastic Mahdists (2 figs ea.)
  • 1 sprue of Warlord plastic Celtic Warriors (10 figs ea.)
  • 1 CD-ROM for MMO game World of Tanks, with free M3 Stuart upgrade
  • Flyer to redeem for free issue of Strategy & Tactics
   Not as much swag as in previous years, but still not bad. Already run into a few familiar faces, too. This is my 4th Historicon in 5 years now. I won't be able to make next year, but should be back for 2013, wherever it ends up being held. That's it for now, I guess. The boys and I have figured out our games for tomorrow and Friday, if we can get them. I'll be taking lots of pictures, and hope to get some uploaded as the convention progresses.

  EDIT July 7, 2011, 0653: After posting, I turned out lights and headed for bed. Immediately smashed left knee into coffee table, producing much cursing, the removal of some flesh, and a great deal of pain and swelling. Ice and Tylenol seem to have pretty much taken care of the damage, thank God.

05 July 2011

Reginald's Regiments of Renown, Issue #11


1st Velocipede Dragoon Regiment


   The invention of the steam-driven bicycle, more accurately described as the velocipede, led quickly to a military development. Faster than horses, and able to carry more equipment than a man on foot, the velocipede and its flankcar provide mobility and firepower to the Kaiser's forces. Already trained in mobility tactics and prepared to fight dismounted, the dragoons were a natural fit for the velocipede regiments.

   The uniform of the Velocipede Dragoon is very similar to that of the standard dragoons. The light blue jacket is worn, along with dark trousers and riding boots. Black infantry helmet is standard, but omits the spike of the traditional pickelhaube for safety reasons.

   Each dragoon is armed with a carbine, but one out of three of the velocipedes is provided with a flank car and a second rider. This flankcar carries a pintle-mounted machinegun that can also be detached and fitted to a tripod. This massively increases the firepower of the Velocipede Dragoons.

   The regiment itself is so new that it has yet to see combat. However, the combination of firepower and mobility ensure that the Velocipede Dragoons will certainly have a major impact on the future of warfare.

04 July 2011

American Independence Celebration

   As many of you are no doubt aware, the Americans celebrate the anniversary of the signing of their Declaration of Independence today. While we rather enjoy the traiditional pyrotechnic celebrations, it is still a bit surprising to Her Majesty's loyal subjects that the Americans have managed so well in the years since their departure from the fold. Mean to say, I know old George III was a bit, well, peculiar, but fighting a war of rebellion over a few eccentricities? Well, water under the bridge now, as they say. Just so long as they remember they are the junior partner in the English-speaking nations of the world, well, I suppose all will be well.

  See you at the American Legation celebration. I hear they are having some of those odd German style sausages on a bun, cooked over an open flame, of all things. And washing it down with beer that has been chilled. Dashed odd, Cousin Jonathan.

01 July 2011

Popular Mechanicks, Issue #5: Ramshackle "Brass Coffin"


   This ramshackle vehicle is popularly known as the Brass Coffin by our intrepid forces. It has been used by insurgent forces who can produce no better armored vehicle. Powered by steam, the engine drives a single external piston geared to the rear axle for propulsion. The two large front wheels are independently mounted on a transverse axle, and serve little mechanical purpose other than giving the vehicle some trench-crossing ability.

   The forward armour is enhanced with a thick glacis plate, angled to help shed the impact of shell and bullet. The side armour is not so thick, but has proven to be proof against smallarms fire. While the metalwork looks similar to brass, it is in fact a very advanced alloy, rustproof and lightweight, yet tough as armourplate.



   While quite well-armoured, the Brass Coffin carries no heavy armaments. It relies on troops firing from within it through the slits you see there. Also, many of its gears are externally mounted, which makes its propulsion system vulnerable to the overwhelming firepower of disciplined Regulars.

[Editor's Note: This is the Brass Coffin from Ramshackle Games. They are almost sold out, according to their blog. So if you want one... now would be the time to get after it! Photos taken from Lead Bones Blog, the Ramshackle Games company blog.]